Withered Hand / Jo Foster – Cupar Arts Festival, Elmwood College, Cupar – 11th October 2013
After the intimate setting of Castlehill Centre in midweek it was back to the main hall at Elmwood College but fortunately the turn-out this week (120+, I would estimate) meant that the hall didn’t feel nearly so cavernous.
Support came from Jo Foster but poor Jo had to crawl from her sickbed to appear. Even just before her set she appeared to be undertaking some throat maintenance! But she was not only was battling the flu but also a self detuning guitar – early on at least. Apologetic as to the effect that her illness was having on her voice, she nevertheless persevered, and received a great reception from a very sympathetic audience.
Starting with a handful of tunes solo on her acoustic guitar she was then joined by bass and drums before shifting, for the final few songs of the set, from guitar to piano.
Her set was good to start with but, with each change of instrumentation, I enjoyed it more and more. The piano section in particular was lovely but energetic at the same time. In the end it was a really nice opener to set us up for the headliner and we did purchase a copy of her E.P.
As promised, the Withered Hand set delivered a mixture of old and new songs as Dan Willson and cohorts gave us not just a majority of the tunes from debut album ‘Good News’ but also, presumably, a good chunk of 2014’s much anticipated follow-up.
The new songs sounded just as strong as the tunes from ‘Good News’. Although many are unreleased, some have been around for a wee while as I’m fairly sure that one or two were aired as far back as shows last summer including last year’s Queen’s Hall show. Taken en masse the new tunes are probably a bit more muscular than those on the first album. The up tempo stuff like ‘Black Tambourine’ and ‘King of Hollywood’ are great but I actually think my favourites are a couple of the slower numbers – potential title track ‘New Gods’ is quite a delicate number and ‘Between True Love and Ruin’ a real slow burner.
Given that this was Fife, there was also room for a popular special guest appearance from King Creosote himself on the exuberant ‘King of Hollywood’.
‘Heart Heart’ brought the set to a fairly raucous conclusion but, inevitably, that wasn’t enough for an enthusiastic crowd who brought back firstly just Dan for a solo rendition of ‘Cornflake’ before the band joined him for the true finale ‘Religious Songs’.
It’s really been fantastic to have such great shows close to home and the week has certainly been a hit with both the MPKs (still amongst the youngest present at the all ages shows – although to MPK2’s delight, for once, he wasn’t the youngest person). Neither knew much about Withered Hand before last night (‘Heart Heart’ excepted) but the normally reserved MPK1 was even moved to describe the show afterwards as ‘good’ even though he had taken a fair bit of persuasion to come out the door with the rest of us earlier in the evening.
Withered Hand setlist:
1. Black Tambourine 2. Providence 3. I Am Nothing 4. California 5. This Is Nowhere 6. New Dawn 7. Love In The Time of Ecstasy 8. King of Hollywood 9. Horse Shoe 10. New Gods 11. Between True Love and Ruin 12. Heart Heart
13. Cornflake 14. Religious Songs
More photos from the show to follow at some point.
It’s been a good year for the short form releases this year. There have been some years when I seem to have hardly bought any singles or E.P.s but not 2011. Here’s the best baker’s dozen of releases (and I’ve not included the likes of Panda Su nor the Young Spooks …)
E.P. of the Year
50 Foot Wave – With Love From The Men’s Room
Simply the best Wave E.P. to date, this was Kristin and co at their exhilarating best. Actually Kristin’s only new release of 2011 but it’s so good that doesn’t seem to matter. And best of all you can download it legitimately for free. Go on. Do it. Then spread the word.
Chocolate single of the Year
FOUND – Anti-Climb Paint
What do you do with a chocolate single? Play it? Eat it? We did both – here’s the video of the first part at least.
And let’s not forget that, amid all the chocolate, that it’s a bloody great song from a brilliant LP. Probably band of the year. No, make that definitely. [Download] Fuck, I look old in that video!
Download single of the Year
Edinburgh School for the Deaf- Orpheus Descending
It’s inexplicable why they left one of their best songs off the LP and limited its release to only 200. Even more inexplicable was the fact that you could still get it for ages after release. But they’ve gone now. If the band lost a little momentum in the second half of the year following Kieran’s departure, then they appear to be regrouping for further sonic assualts in 2012. Can’t wait.
A live performance of the single from May – in the daylight:
Pop single of the year
Martin John Henry – Ribbon on a Bough
Who knew he had it in him? If Martin has previously more than amply demonstrated his mastery of the intense, ‘Ribbon’ showed an unexpected talent for the throway pop gem. And there were 2 cracking B-sides on the CD version as well – the “title track” from the brilliant LP (which isn’t on the record of couse) and the excellent ‘Woodilee Song’. If you want the CD though, they’re all gone. Download it instead.
Smash-able Keyboard Single of the Year
Mitchell Museum – What We Built
Is this cooler than a chocolate single? Perhaps (although I’ve NOT smashed mine yet!) Supposed to be a single to bridge the gap between the previous LP and the next one, ‘What We Built’ instead turned out to be their swan song. (sob) An amazing burst of adrenaline, the closest they ever came to capturing the energy of the live shows in the studio, with the requisite killer melody.
7″ of the Year
King Creosote/Kid Canaveral – Homerun and a Vow
A joyful collision of Mr Anderson and the Canaverals, the co-written A-side is an absolute joy. The B-side too sung by Kate isn’t half bad either and the emergence of new Kid C material (at last!) promises great things for the second LP. [BUY IT]
A live version of the song from London in black and white:
7″ of the Year (2)
Grant Hart – So Far From Heaven
Even a few weeks ago any thoughts of new material from the legendary Grant Hart would have seemed optimistic in the extreme. But, no, Grant was selling this little gem on his recent European tour and you can get it online here (or in Monorail in Glasgow). New LP in 2012? Bring it on!
A live performance of the song:
Split 10″ of the Year
Malcolm Middleton /River of Slime – De-Fence 10×10:08
New material from Malcolm Middleton – unbridled joy! And an intriguing slice of samplery from Kev from FOUND. The De-Fence 10″ EPs are always a little special in terms of material but this one definitely seems to be the most special so far. [Buy it]
3 Track CD of the Year
Cancel The Astronauts – Seven Vices
Not perhaps the most obvious single from the live set, yet still a cracking tune from a band visibly growing in confidence with almost each performance. The 2 non-LP B-sides perhaps best illustrate why that’s the case – 2 great songs amongst a whole slew of new material they’ve written this year. Indeed being so prolific seems to be a major threat to that LP ever getting finished. [Buy it]
Loud electro-rock E.P. of the Year
Birdhead – Talons
Birdhead are such a blast live, it seemed improbable that they could capture that on record. But no, with ‘Talons’ that’s exactly what they’ve done. And, good as the E.P. is, there were more great songs in the live set even back in August. And they’ve written more since. Their hopefully released next year debut LP is a cause for great excitement. Sadly, like several other things on this list, it seems to have sold out
.‘Goth’ E.P. of the Year
Vladimir – Vladimir
Not really goth but these loud young Dundonians took a lot of its best elements and fashioned an impressive debut 5 tracker. ‘Mellow’ is the highlight (and of course it’s anything but mellow) and with another release planned for early in 2012, next year may just be the year of Vladimir. [Buy it]
Song By Toad Records E.P. of the Year
King Post Kitsch – Don’t You Touch My Fucking Honeytone
I liked a lot of what Matthew released in 2011 but nothing more than the King Post Kitsch E.P. A complementary release to the rather good album, other than the title track, all the songs on here weren’t on the LP. But they were just as good as the stuff that did make it. In fact, ‘Alaska’ might be even better. [Buy it]
The ‘Where The Hell Did That Come From?’ E.P. of the Year
Jill Birt – Still Life
Genuinely even more unexpected than a Grant Hart release was the debut solo EP from Triffid Jill Birt. Recorded with assistance from some of her band mates, ‘Still Life’ was a gorgeous, mainly gentle record which promised great things for her debut solo LP – only 20 years after the Triffids initially disbanded!
Organised by Mr Peenko himself, the Scottish BAMS (Bloggers and Music Sites) has reached its third annual “LP of the Year” with the Top 10 LPs announced the other day. Let’s cut to the chase with the Top 10:
8-10. The Moth & The Mirror – Honestly, This World /PJ Harvey – Let England Shake / FOUND – factorycraft
I confess that I’m much more comfortable with this year’s winners compared to last year’s (The National). I think if I was a betting man I’d have put money on Bill and Aidan given both their statuses in the Scottish music scene and the fact that ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ is a bloody good record.
What I find interesting about the list is that there was some daylight between Numbers 1 and 2 and then between No 2 and the rest of the pack. Those in the 3-10 range didn’t really get many more votes than those bubbling just under. Indeed it was possible (just) for an act to get into the Top 10 on the strength of 2 nominees, illustrating both the lack of depth in the voting pool AND, probably more so, the lack of consensus over what actually comprised the best 3 LPs of the last 12 months.
In terms of my own vote, only 1 of my 3 picks made it into the Top 10, but all will be revealed on that score some time after Christmas.
The above list was voted for by the following (mainly Scottish) blogs:
The Pop Cop, Jim Gellatly, The Steinberg Principle, Blueback Hotrod, Scots Whay Hae, Dauphin, The Daily Dose, Blues Bunny, Rave Child, Glasgow PodcArt, 17 Seconds, Net Sounds, The Tidal Wave of Indifference, edRock.net, Dear Scotland, Vic Galloway, Manic Pop Thrills, Edinburgh Man, Kowalskiy, Last Years Girl, Aye Tunes, Song, By Toad, Elba Sessions, Listen Before You Buy, Detour Scotland, Jock Rock, Found in Sound, Phuturelabs, The Daily Growl, Favourite Son, The ‘Spill, Scottish Fiction, Nicola Meighan, Jenny Soep, Rokbun, Curious Joe, Radar Scotsman Music Blog and of course Peenko.
For an interview with the winners, head over here.
I finally remembered to order the split King Creosote/Kid Canaveral single last week and it duly arrived through the letter box (with something of a bump) yesterday morning.
Released as part of Fence’s Secret 7s series ‘Homerun and a Vow’ combines the strengths of both acts into a very desirable slab of black plastic.
The A-side is a joint Creosote/Canaveral composition and it was one of the highlights of the KC Squared set at the Doghouse in Dundee earlier this month. It’s a great song and nice to hear KC backed by a slightly more raucous outfit than is the norm on his solo records.
The release also features the first new Kid Canaveral original material this year in the shape of Kate sung B-side ‘Nowhere Near Half Done’. The lead instrumental melody is a slightly mournful wee keyboard and the whole thing is given a nice pop sheen eschewing the traditional guitar solo in the middle in favour of more keyboards.
Buy the single from Fence here.
King Creosote / KC Squared / Kid Canaveral – The Doghouse, Dundee – 3rd November 2011
I think I’ve confessed before that I’ve not known a lot about King Creosote. Despite seeing King Kenny perform several short solo sets at different times in the past, I’d never seen him perform with a full band before.
So, having caught up with the recent KC Domino releases over the last 12 months, the KC Squared show at the Doghouse last night, with MPT staples Kid Canaveral in tow, seemed like the perfect opportunity to fill that glaring gap in the CV.
Kid C first. Maybe I’m letting my lack of affection for the venue colour this but initially it’s the most subdued set I’ve seen from them. For the first handful of songs they seem to struggle a bit with the acoustics at the Doghouse and uncharacteristically it all seems a little lacking in that essential Kid C element – fun. But, in the middle of new song ‘The Wrench’, David and Rose exchange a glance, laugh, and suddenly all is right with the world again.
After that it sounds great and the run of ‘hits’ to close the set stands up in anybody’s company.
At the conclusion of Kid C’s set, they’re joined by Mr Anderson for a 5 song set. Both “John Taylor’s Month Away” and “No Way She Exists” sound as bright as buttons with added Kid C jangle with the King adding acoustic guitar to a typical Kid C run through of ‘Missionary’. The highlights of the short set though are both sides of the joint single, “Nowhere Near Half Done'” and “Homerun and A Vow” with the latter particularly great.
So to the headline act. It takes some time to ‘load’ the 8 piece band on stage, but once on, they’re off and running. Despite taking my elementary King Creosote course over the last 12 months, I still don’t know many of the songs played (hence lack of setlist below), albeit that is in part down to the fact that many are taken from the unreleased ‘T hat might well be it, darling” LP.
Still, even without knowing the tunes, it’s a wonderfully diverse and enjoyable set, through folk, pop, dance and rock with even a darker section midway through.
When it comes round to encore time the band decide to forego the difficulties of getting off and on again so stand around sheepishly for a short while before restarting. As an introduction to the full majesty of King Creosote, the evening worked perfectly.
The only downside to the show was an overenthusiastic group of ‘fans’ who pushed their way next to us then seemed more interested in talking loudly and jumping around at inappropriate moments than listening to the band.
Still it detracted only a little from a rather excellent evening and both Mrs MPT and myself agreed that we’d go and see KC again in a shot.
Kid Canaveral setlist
1. Her Hair Hangs Down 2. Smash Hits 3. Left and Right 4. The Wrench 5. And Another Thing!! 6. Good Morning 7. You Only Went Out To Get Drunk Last Night 8. Couldn’t Dance
KC Squared setlist
1. John Taylor’s Month Away 2. No Way She Exists 3. Nowhere Near Half Done 4. Missionary 5. Homerun and A Vow
Some photos from last night can be found here.
One of the King C songs I did know on Thursday:
What does a band do if it can’t play its own single launch? Well that was the problem that faced FOUND when they were unable to perform at this evening’s single launch for ‘Anti-Climb Paint’ due to Ziggy’s tonsilitis. Their solution was to get friends to play their songs instead and they were so successful that MPK2, in tow, for the evening thoroughly enjoyed himself despite not getting to see the band themselves.
Opening act was Gummi Bako who concluded his hugely entertaining short set with his version of ‘Let Fidelity Break’. He was followed on by the Milnes who played a four song set of FOUND covers with ‘You’re No Vincent Gallo’ hilariously reworded to reflect FOUND’s current predicament.
The chocolate single itself was the next attraction, a dark chocolate version finally being persuaded to play a clearly recognisable version of ‘Anti-Climb Paint’ before being broken up and spread amongst the audience.
King Creosote then played a three song set, including an A-ha cover but not alas a FOUND one, before a FOUND member finally took to the stage in the shape of Kev in his River of Slime guise to conclude the evening with a set of cut-up samples and electronica.
It’s difficult to imagine that a single launch could survive the loss of its headliners – but this one did and in some style!
Download the single from one of the usual online retailers.