Sunday, 15 January 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 4

The Monkees kick off the 4th instalment of the Never Ending Mixtape with their psychedelic masterpiece Porpoise Song (Theme from Head). I remember reading about Head as a teenager - did The Monkees really make a crazed LSD inspired film co-written by Jack Nicholson?

YES - and it is even crazier than it sounds.

Moving on from The Monkees we also have some psychedelic tunes by the likes of the Polyphonic Spree (who have performed Porpoise Song with The Monkees), Flaming Lips, Ride and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

You'll need to go down to the 50th song to start this section of the Never Ending Playlist embedded below, or start from the beginning! Or you can play each individual song below.


Porpoise Song - The Monkees
Wanting to feel, to know what is real


Light and Day/Reach For The Sun - The Polyphonic Spree
Seeing The Polyphonic Spree live is a little like a religious experience for me. It's not just their robes that led to some people questioning if they're a cult; it's the sense of freedom in their songs, asking questions and searching for answers, being positive, being reflective, being true to themselves and seeing how far they could take it.


Race For The Prize (remix) - The Flaming Lips
The Soft Bulletin is an incredible album. This song used to (and may still) start Flaming Lips sets. I remember seeing them at the Barrowlands and Wayne and his band were their own roadies - true punks - they saved money when touring by sorting their own equipment. They burst on to the stage with fans dressed as animals, confetti, a light that Wayne swung above his head and played this glorious song. 


The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
OOH haven't listened to this in years, what a tune, what a groove. I love everything about it, the vocals are strained and soulful.


I'll Be Around - Yo La Tengo
Just sublime, what a gorgeous riff and feel to this song.


French Disko - Stereolab
Stereolab were beloved by John Peel and that is how I discovered them. Unique punk pop with a psychedelic (disco) edge. One of those bands that can transport you away from reality to get lost in their music, grooves, imagery and imagination.


Dream Baby Dream - Suicide
Suicide were on of those bands that loads of my favourite artists would mention - Bobby Gillespie, Norman Blake, Duglas T Stewart.... among others (later on James Murphy). I first heard this on a free CD given away with Mojo/Uncut many, many moons ago and instantly fell for it.

Keep that dream burning
Dream baby dream, forever


Touch - A Certain Ratio
Not a band I am very familiar with at all but I've just finished reading Peter Hook's Substance book and I wanted to take some time to check them out. This is funky as funk. The band would regularly venture to New York and the disco/club scene had a HUGE impact on them.They play Glasgow in February.


Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order
Have to include New Order as I've been listening to them a lot recently while reading Hooky's book. This and Temptation are my real favourites.


Lips Like Sugar - Echo and the Bunnymen
The Bunnymen's Songs To Learn And Sing is a sensational (compilation) album. The belief, ambition, arrogance and audacity of the Bunnymen transpired to songs like Lips Like Sugar - incredible.


Leave The All Behind - Ride
Ride were really young when they burst on to the scene with a string of EP's that led to their debut album Nowhere. It was only with the release of second album Going Blank Again that I discovered them. This just blew me away; over 8-minutes of blissed out guitar psychedelia.

Friday, 6 January 2017

KVASIR and Wuh Oh at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut

Last night I got the first gig of the year under my belt at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut. The reason for my early January outing was to catch two artists that I have blogged about and enjoyed over the last year or so - KVASIR and Wuh Oh. They were joined by Ultra's and Stillhound to make up a 4 band bill - offering exceptional value for money - if meaning a late night finish.

There was quite a smattering of bands and media in attendance to catch some of the buzziest acts in Scotland; Jim Gellatly, Vic Galloway, Saint PHNX, Miaoux Miaoux, Bad Mannequins and Crash Club to name a few.

KVASIR was certainly someone who drew a crowd, curiosity drawing people to the mysterious producer who plays wearing a fencing mask that has been souped up and electrified to look a little Daft Punk. I described his EP as the most sublime music being created in Scotland at present, it gathered excellent reviews and airplay and many are predicting big things for him in 2017 - even bigger after catching him last night!

KVASIR in action at King Tut's
Picture by @brisbanecameron

KVASIR didn't waste any time in showing why - taking to the stage shortly after 8.40pm (his choice to go on first so he was in complete control of the sound) and literally lighting up King Tut's with a 25-minute set of pure electro pop perfection; the previously released EP and a couple of new songs.

I woke up humming the infectious melody to Lyon. I always take that as a good sign if I can remember a hook or a melody.

With his own light show and a huge flight case with a bank of equipment to run up Tut's electricty bill, KVASIR looked and sounded the part. I would really like to see him in a club environment - get this guy to the Sub Club!

The light show in time to the beats and drops looked incredible and I had to smile when checking tweets from last night when I came across this one

is unlike anything we have ever seen at . Stunned

KVASIR wasn't only conjuring up all kinds of beautiful sounds by his overworked fingertips on various gadgets, he was also singing live from behind his mask. It was clear to see that a mic was fitted into his mask and although his face was shielded to protect his identity you could just see enough through the mask to see him singing. To do that and everything else shows real talent. It was a sublime set.


Ultras were up next - great band name (not so easy to find on Social Media), although after checking a couple of songs in advance, I have to be honest and say that they were not for me. I did catch their last couple of songs and plenty of people enjoyed their set with one person next to me commenting that they sounded like early Biffy.

Stillhound got people dancing and I mean really dancing. It was fantastic to see young kids (and a couple who looked in their 60s) throwing themselves about with a sense of freedom. Stillhound used to be Discopolis, a band who I blogged about and caught live a couple of times in 2011.

They had something then and they have something now. All of their songs seem to have a beautiful flowing undercurrent, allowing the band to playfully come up with guitar and synth riffs and bass grooves. The trio also have a fantastic range of vocals among them and they combine all of the aforementioned in a kind of dreamy, clubby vibe. The band released an album in November 2016 that I will definitely go back to check out. Judging by the people dancing and singing a-long, many already have the album. Check it out below.


Wuh Oh (aka Peter Ferguson) was headlining and demonstrated exceptional skills with samples by switching, cutting, mixing, looping and playing piano and synths over the top of them - adding and dropping beats as he went. His exceptional Stay Tuned song is one I described as the sound of summer on ecstasy, sample heavy, uplifting pure pop, sounding like a lost cut from The Avalanches Since I Left You in a previous blog. He has loads more besides, isn't afraid to experiment and certainly isn't afraid to show he is having a good time on stage and that translated to the audience who joined in by dancing and some looked on in amazement at the sounds he created - jazzy and houses piano, funky beats, heavy bass.

Wuh Oh showed all kinds of skills and an eclectic taste. With long lanky hair and over sized jumper he just got completely lost in the music and took a large part of the audience with him. I really look forward to watching this artist develop over the coming year.


Picture by @jimgellatly 



Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Barrowland idea

Calvin Harris to blow the roof off the Barrowland......imagine.....

Scottish music fans regularly debated the future of Glasgow's world famous Barrowland Ballroom for a number of years, particularly when the Academy and the ABC came on to the scene. There was no doubt that the number of shows at the legendary venue fell in number, but 2016 saw Barras end the year in a rich vein of form.

Teenage Fanclub, Deacon Blue, Frightened Rabbit, Twin Atlantic and Fatherson were Scottish acts who elected to have homecoming Christmas shows at the Barrowland Ballroom.

It got me thinking.....

Could the Barras have a month of Christmas shows? Turn it into a Barrowland Homecoming Festival?

It easily could. Here is the Scottish acts who could feasibly book their Christmas show for 2017 already, many would sell out instantly. Can you imagine Calvin Harris blowing the roof off the place? Paolo Nutini ripping it up and singing his heart out and going for a pint in McChuills afterwards?

Paulo could probably do a  month at the Barras on his own!

Many acts (Scottish or otherwise) still prefer two or three nights at the Barrowland than opting for a larger single show. Who can blame them for choosing the best venue in the world with the best atmosphere?!

I have let my imagination run (easily) wild and made up a few imaginary support slots/double bills just to fit a number of bands in. I guess you would have give some acts a couple of nights. Who have I missed?

Over to the venue and promoters who could make this happen....


2017 (Imaginary) Christmas Homecoming Festival at Glasgow Barrowland


Friday 1st Dec - Teenage Fanclub with special guest Edwyn Collins
2nd - Deacon Blue with special guests Justin Currie (I know from playing football with Justin Currie that he would love to play the Barrowland again - ideally with Del Amitri!)
3rd - The Twilight Sad

Mon 4th - Idlewild 
5th - The Waterboys
6th - Frightened Rabbit
7th - Twin Atlantic
8th - The View
9th - Franz Ferdinand with special guests The Vaselines
10th - Belle and Sebastian with special guests BMX Bandits

Mon 11th - Mogwai with special guests The Pastels
12th - Simple Minds
13th - Simple Minds
14th  -  Chvrches
15th - Primal Scream with special guests The Jesus and Mary Chain
16th - Travis
17th - Arab Strap

Mon 18th - Amy McDonald with special guest KT Tunstall
19th - Biffy Clyro with special guests Fatherson
20th - Biffy Clyro with special guests Fatherson
21st - Paulo Nutini with special guest Gerry Cinnamon
22nd - Paolo Nutini with special guest Gerry Cinnamon
23rd - Calvin Harris 
24th -  Calvin Harris 

27th - Texas
28th - Runrig
29th - Runrig
30th - Edinburgh Hogmanay warm up show (for whoever is heading to Edinburgh for the bells). Worked well for Primal Scream a number of years back. Failing that The Bay City Rollers

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Scottish music scene in 2017

What will 2017 bring to the Scottish Music Scene? This blog focuses on a number of things I'll be looking out for through the year. There will no doubt be a number of surprises as well but read on for links to festivals, labels, bands, videos, songs and albums......

Festivals


T in the Park - what is the future/is there a future?
We should know the answer to the question hanging over the Scottish music scene by September/October; will T in the Park return in some shape or form in 2018? By that stage DF Concerts will have assessed their Glasgow Green shows (see below), along with the usual Bellahouston shows. They'll also have assessed site options and potential hoops they have to jump through, and considered if they have the desire to jump through them. The DF team will definitely miss T, however, if their Glasgow Green, Bellahouston and stadium shows all sell well then they might not miss the cash.

Will Scotland miss T? Well I never thought I would say this, but I don't think too many will. Times change and 2017 is set to be a year that emphasises that more than most.

Glasgow Green 8-10 July
Radiohead are already confirmed for one of the nights at Glasgow Green, Coldplay are rumoured to be another. Who else could come and sell out that kind of venue? I'd love to see a double bill of Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem but that is likely to prove wishful thinking - I'll settle for seeing them grace the Barrowland Ballroom again - if I can get tickets!

Electric Fields 1st-2nd September 2017
Electric Fields jumped up to 2-days with relative ease and now that T and Wickerman have been removed from the calendar this presents a real opportunity for the boutique festival to firmly establish itself. 2016 was delightful - the location and setting is beautiful, the atmosphere was exceptional and the line-up eclectic in all the right ways. Do they stick with the 5,000 capacity or look to increase?

Kelburn Garden Party 30th June - 3rd July 2017
Kelburn is another festival that could make a real statement in 2017. It has been becoming increasingly popular through word of mouth. For fellow Glaswegians it is exceptionally easy to get to, it has a real eclectic line-up and seems equally family and raver friendly.


Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 3rd-5th August 2017
Franz Ferdinand, Sister Sledge and KT Tunstall have already been announced for the Tartan Heart Festival; 3 fantastic festival acts. The festival usually sells out and these acts are bound to ensure that happens again. Get your tickets fast if you are interested.

The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award



The SAY Award is going from strength to strength, highlighting the rich artistic talent that our small country has to offer the world. Anna Meredith won the 2016 award with her Varmints album, beating off competition from the likes of FFS, Emma Pollock, Young Fathers and Chvrches.

The likes of Meredith, Kathryn Joseph (2015 winner) and previous shortlisted contenders like Happy Meals have really benefited from the exposure generated from this award. I always look forward to the longlist being announced so I can check out loads of interesting music.

Labels


Last Night From Glasgow - Founded in 2016, LNfG had an incredible first year (even if I do say so myself). 7-inch singles by Mark W Georgsson, Emme Woods and Be Charlotte, a USB credit card album by Stephen Solo, gatefold vinyl album by TeenCanteen, USB slap wrist band by BooHooHoo and some digital releases as well! All on top of having 150 members! Our members got all of that music plus invites to launch shows all for £50 per annum.

As a co-founder and board member of LNfG I know that we have some incredible stuff planned for 2017 beginning with the release of Mark W Georgsson's stunning Faces and Places album in January. We celebrate our 1st anniversary with a show at Stereo on 30th March with BooHooHoo headlining and further guests set to be announced in the near future.

Fuzzkill Records - As the label who first released Catholic Action and Spinning Coin, fans of indie/punk/pop/grunge will be looking to see who Fuzzkill unearth next. They clearly have a great ear and good taste and I look forward to hearing what 2017 brings.

Olive Grove Records - I always keep an eye on Lloyd's label. 2016 was productive with the release of Homemade Lemonade by Ette receiving huge plaudits, including being named in the top 5 albums on Bandcamp for 2016. There were also setbacks with Woodenbox calling it a day but Lloyd's taste and nature will ensure he unearths something new - I look forward to finding out what that might be.


Geographic - read on for mentions of Spinning Coin's album and The Pastels archive project. 2017 could be a busy one for Stephen and Katrina's label.

Song by Toad - are buoyed by the return of Meursault and the success of the Modern Studies Swell to Great LP so enter 2017 in a rich vein of form.


Nightschool Records received a fair bit of money from me last year as I bought releases by Happy Meals, Molly Nilsson and Rose McDowall. They clearly like their pop music, although you can dig deeper for more alternative releases. Definitely a label to watch and Happy Meals will be releasing a summer album - perfect!


Scottish Fiction released the magnificent Mt.Doubt In Awe Of Nothing album in 2016 and have already announced plans for a split 7-inch with Mt.Doubt and ForeignFOXX

Indie / DIY action

TeenCanteen ended 2016 by heading into La Chunky studio to record some new songs. They will hopefully be making an announcement on a release in the near future. The band had an excellent 2016 with heaps of praise on their debut album Say It All With A Kiss and if they can follow that swiftly then the momentum will continue to build.

Spinning Coin brought out their debut single in 2016 on The Pastels Geographic label and followed that by heading North to Helmsdale to record an album with Edwyn Collins. With the approval of two legends from the Scottish indie scene it is safe to say that a few people are looking forward to this release. Stephen Pastel wrote on the Teenage Fanclub forum that their debut single Albany reminded him of the feeling he got from The Boy Hairdressers as they turned into Teenage Fanclub. Their recent tour with the Fanclub definitely won them a number of fans.


Catholic Action had an excellent 2016 with the re-release of L.U.V and the follow up Rita Ora. Teenage Fanclub also took this band out for a few dates and an album must surely be in the pipeline.

Gerry Cinnamon certainly hasn't rushed his debut album, but does he need to? Demo's and videos of songs from live shows are ensuring the word of mouth buzz surrounding him continues to build. Gerry sold out the ABC at the end of 2016 and I wouldn't bet against him headlining the Barrowland in 2017. We will hopefully get the album though - the demand is there!

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 have already played the Barrowland and ended the year by also selling out the ABC. They are my favourite live band in Scotland due to the sheer positivity and good feeling they generate. The band and crowd become one and you are guaranteed to leave a live show with a smile on your face. I hope to be recording a guest podcast with the Colonel and his loyal lieutenant in the near future.

Major Breakthrough?

A number of Scottish acts have signed for major labels over the last few years; White, Kloe, Model Aeroplanes, Fatherson, Neon Waltz..... none have broken through. Two (White and Neon Waltz) have been dropped.  Fatherson are in for the long haul and Kloe and Model Aeroplanes are young enough to still do something if they are given time write (or be given) a song(s) to break them. Think of the way Chvrches exploded on to the scene with a string of singles.

Will any Scottish acts snapped up by a major in 2017? It is becoming increasingly difficult, not only to get signed, but to break through. Who are the contenders?

Saint PHNX - seem poised for a deal after Radio 1 airplay, the use of their songs in major sporting events including the CL final, a publishing deal for singer Stevie Jukes, crazy Spotify action and by making all the right moves including securing a fantastic managerial team. I've been singing the praises of Stevie Jukes as a major label writer and star for some time. Will 2017 be his breakthrough year with Saint Phnx? If so he is ready.


Be Charlotte - there has been a load of hype about Be Charlotte - an incredibly talented young 19 year old from Dundee. I spoke with Charlotte at the launch of her Machines That Breathe single and was impressed with her down to earth attitude, work ethic and her talent. At one point she stepped to the front of the stage and sang acapella - it was stunning. Charlotte is sassy, stylish and she has time on her side and also an ever increasing stockpile of songs. I expect 2017 to be another busy year and more forwards progression for the youngster.

K V A S I R - the debut EP by K V A S I R was the most sublime release by a Scottish artist in 2016. I know that he has much more recorded. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a major label or highly established indie came in to give him the platform his music richly deserves. He plays King Tut's on Thursday 5th January.

More from

2016 was a productive year for a lot of bands I have been following for a long time, that looks set to continue in 2017, with 5 long term favourite Scottish bands of mine set for releases and touring throughout the year

Teenage Fanclub
TFC follow up the success of the Here album by continuing to tour in promotion. After hammering September-December, the Fannies return after a festive break with a European tour followed by a jaunt to Japan and Australia. Norman Blake has also promised West Coast of America dates and a number of festivals have been confirmed. Will they play a Scottish festival? Or make a welcome return to Kelvingrove Bandstand? Watch this space...

Jesus and Mary Chain
JAMC follow their reunion and Psychocandy shows with a new album Damage and Joy, due for release at the end of March. This will be the Reid brothers first album since 1998. Expect shows, festivals and lots of media if Alan McGee has anything to do with it.

Belle and Sebastian
The Belles have been recording and from Stuart Murdoch's tweets and online diary it sounds like it will be released via a string of EP's rather than an album. This points towards a prolonged burst of activity but at a pace controlled by the band. I expect some secret shows, special shows and lots of great stuff. The band have already announced a show at Chelsea Royal Hospital in June, so expect a release before or around then with other dates to come.

The Pastels
I've been so busy lately that I haven't been into Monorail for ages! Last year Stephen Pastel informed me that he was working on an archive project for the band. This involved sourcing a lot of old recordings and confirming who owns what. The Pastels have a rich catalogue of material crying out for a reissue and reappraisal. Fingers crossed they can get the paperwork/legal stuff sorted and we get some releases, press (Stephen's musical taste and knowledge really comes across) and shows.

I only discovered this early Creation release by The Pastels last year
Million Tears is guitar pop perfection 

BMX Bandits
I was fortunate to spend a lovely sunny afternoon with Duglas last summer and also met him at several shows and events after that, so I know that he has been recording with Stuart Kidd amongst others. I look forward to hearing what they have come up with and to seeing them with TeenCanteen as part of Independent Venue week in January when they play the Bungalow in Paisley on January 23rd. EVENT INFO HERE

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Princess Leia

Carrie Fisher 1956-2016



Like many guys of my age, Carrie Fisher left a huge impact on me through the character she will forever be associated with - Princess Leia.

Leia won hearts; with her look, hairstyle and attitude; not giving in to the torture droid in the Death Star, taking over the 'rescue' and blasting a hole into the garbage compactor unit and putting Han Solo in his place - something that I can't imagine any other girl (or guy) having had much success in doing so previously. Solo immediately warms to her and turns on the charm 'your worshipfulness.....' as if he doesn't care, but the more I watch A New Hope then the more it is obvious that Solo is as captivated by Leia from the off as men all around the world/galaxy were. Leia responds beautifully 'will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way.'


Leia left an incredibly positive impression on me at a young age; taking control of the rescue, the captivating swing with Luke after he had blasted the drawbridge, looking absolutely stunning and awarding medals at the end.... the force was with her.


Leia is at her best and coolest in The Empire Strikes Back; the looks between Leia and Solo, their little mind games with each other, the banter/interplay, the kiss, the 'I love you' moment just as Han is about to be cast into carbonate, to which he beautifully responds 'I know'.

Leia's stunning costumes and hairstyles continue; she may be most famed for her gold bikini in Return Of The Jedi, but her Bespin/Cloud City outfit and hairstyle is Leia at her most beautiful for me.

After Solo is frozen and Vader is laying the trap for Luke, Leia takes control (like in A New Hope) in a vain effort to rescue Solo and warn Luke. She later cares for Luke and sets the wheels in motion to rescue Han.

The Spice Girls made their name with girl power but for me and my generation it was Princess Leia who set the scene for how girls should be respected and equal. Leia was up with Luke and Han.


The Return Of The Jedi begins with Leia embarking on another rescue, disguised as a bounty hunter entering Jabba's palace to rescue her beloved Solo. Leia holds her nerve to barter with Jabba 'this bounty is my kind of scum' but is caught in the act of rescuing Han from his frozen state in possibly the most beautifully tender scene from all the Star Wars films. Solo begins to thaw out but is blind from the carbonite/hibernation sickness and asks where he is and who he is with; Leia removes her mask and answers 'someone who loves you.'


The scenes with Leia in a gold bikini as Jabba's prisoner are truly iconic, Leia smoulders with energy and sexuality. The escape from the Sarlacc pit is excellent with another Luke and Leia rope swing.


Leia is supercool in pursuit of Biker Scouts on a speeder, with Luke only just managing to keep up with her. She then befriends an Ewok (Wicket) which leads to the weird scene of Han Solo about to be barbecued at a dinner in honour of C3PO!

There is time for some more classic Han and Leia moments as they attempt to storm the reactor unit, including a brilliant bit where Leia is shot on the arm and they think they are about to meet their end via a Scout Walker only to find Chewie has commandeered it. Han's face when Leia tells him that Luke is her brother is priceless.

Memories came flooding back about all of the above and more when Leia, Han, Luke, Chewie and co returned to our screens in The Force Awakens last December. The interplay between Leia and Solo was as funny and as moving as ever, more so given the years that had passed.

Farewell my Princess, the force will be with you ......always.





Saturday, 24 December 2016

Always On My Mind


Cover version of the month #20

Pet Shop Boys take on Elvis!

As always, I learn something new about a song when I write my monthly cover version of the month blog. Elvis wasn't the original performer of Always On My Mind - it was soul singer Gwen McCrae. There are over 300 versions of the song that composer Wayne Carson said that he wrote in 10-minutes with the help of his friends Mark James and Jonny Christopher.

FACT - I once got on stage and danced with Gwen McCrae at the Bongo Club in Edinburgh in 2003/2004. Her song 90% Of Me was on a compilation I adored and I dug deeper into her catalogue.


Gwen released the song as You Were Always On My Mind in 1972, Brenda Lee also released a version and then later that year came Elvis.

A number of covers blogs have highlighted that the song that went on to be a HUGE hit started life as a b-side and that was also the case with Elvis! It was released as an A-side in Britain though and was voted Number 1 Elvis song in a 2013 poll. Elvis' voice croons and sooths, you believe every word he has to say.


The Pet Shop Boys take a huge song and turn it into a massive disco hit. The stabbing synths at the start grab you and pull you in. In the background it sounds like they have hit the play button for the rhythm section, but that doesn't matter. Strings sound divine, Neil Tennant sound soothing and uplifting at the same time and the Pet Shop Boys fairly tear through it.

The stabbing synths return every so often to dramatic effect and Tennant pleads with heartfelt soul;

Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn't died
Give me on more chance to keep you satisfied
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

The Pet Shop Boys get and got pop music. Tennant once worked (up to Assistant Editor) for Smash Hits. Their first single was the incredible West End Girls!

Tennant and Chris Lowe turn a slow burner into a pop anthem. But then you go back and listen to Elvis, Gwen or any of the other versions and you realise that this was a pop anthem in the waiting all along.

The reflective lyrics, the pleading, the soul, the fact it's not quite an apology....it's a beauty.



Previous covers of the month

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

2016 review - Albums of the Year

2016 was a good year for me in terms of music. It was very personal; a lot of the music I loved (and shows I enjoyed) was created by family, by friends or by artists I have been following for years/decades. 2016 was also the year that I signed up to Spotify despite vowing never to do so! Yet, I want to support artists. If I fall in love with a song or an album I will buy the physical copy as well, get a ticket for their show or order a t-shirt. 

Here are 20 albums I have enjoyed in 2016. I always like to point out that there are many albums released in 2016 that I haven't heard, so there will probably be a point next year when I discover something and kick myself for being too late to miss tour dates etc.

Top 20 Albums of the year - 2016

Any one of the top 5 could be my album of the year.

1. Pii - Stephen Solo
As I said; any of the top 5 albums could be my album of the year. This is one that means a lot to me, it's by my friend Stephen, he recorded it on his iPhone6 and it has won and melted hearts.

My musical moment of 2016 was the launch party for Last Night From Glasgow and Stephen was on first! It was his first time playing solo and the last song he played was Crying Because. It was just Stephen with a small effect on his vocal, playing a ukelele; it was pure, true, soulful and beautiful. People had tears in their eyes and one guy came up and told Stephen that that performance was worth his membership fee to the label alone.

In my blog HERE I described it as; eclectic, eccentric, psychedelic, gentle, dreamy, beautiful and funny. I hear elements of The Beatles, Talking Heads, Damon Albarn, Boards of Canada, Hot Chip and....Limmy....and most importantly....Stephen.





2. Say It All With A Kiss - TeenCanteen
I was going to write a blog on my sister's album with her band TeenCanteen but a load of other people beat me to it. And that was kind of nice; I sing her praises enough. I love Say It All With A Kiss for the melodies, flows, hooks and choruses, for the clever lyrics and because of the people involved in it.


Here is what a few others had to say about the album;

They sound like a Scottish Shangri-La's who have overdosed on E numbers. In a good way. They are pure pop music and if you haven't heard them you need to immediately. 
They will make your heart sing. .....When Skies Are Grey Fanzine

...vibrant and irrepressibly enjoyable....a mixture of delicate dream pop and garage rock topped off with subtle synth work.... Tenement TV

...a delightful riot of massive beats, swooning harmonies and the gutsy-sweet wonder of front woman Carla Easton and co.... The National

.....an essential purchase. The Herald


....part Wall of Sound, part Postcard RecordsIon Magazine

Say It All With A Kiss is packed full of infectiously catchy, sing-into-your-hairbrush indie pop anthems that'll make you feel 14 againThe Skinny

...irresistible girl-group harmonies, sweet melodies and a stomping Wall of Sound style backdropThe Evening Times


Ace....really, really great.....it is a beautiful thing....you know how much I love the band.....            Marc Riley, BBC 6Music


TeenCanteen perfectly blend light and shade, understand the pace of a record and explore the depths of their musicality whilst still being mindful of staying true to their pop roots. The Music Brewery







3. Here - Teenage Fanclub
My favourite band returned with a wonderful album that sounds even better a few months on from release. Check my full blog HERE

I described the album as; gorgeous, positive, life affirming, reflective and heart warming



4. Wildflower - The Avalanches
What a joyful return. I hope they come to Glasgow in 2017. Read my review HERE


The word sublime features rather regularly in the review and yeah that kinds of sums it up. It leaves me with a warm glow. The imagination, inventive nature, ear for melody, feel for flow...sublime!





5. Homemade Lemonade - Ette  
As I have mentioned, 2016 was a very personal year for me musically and none more so than with this release. My sister Carla's 'solo' album; released under the guise of Ette as the album became a collaboration thanks to the creative spark between producer Joe Kane and Carla.

Released via Olive Grove Records on delicious bubble gum pink vinyl; this gem of an album that was recorded in less than a week has a homegrown psychedelic pop feel to it. Oh and it also has a photo of my daughter Zoe on the cover!

You can read my review HERE 

Homemade Lemonade came in at number 4 on the Bandcamp albums of the year list HERE

34 minutes of pure, unfiltered joy; in a year marked by dark, rolling clouds, Homemade Lemonade offered a rare, welcome rainbow.





6. Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not - Dinosaur Jr
Ah the sound of J Mascis letting rip on electric guitar - one of the best sounds in the world for an indie guitar pop fan. I've followed Dinosaur Jr since falling for them in my teens and this might just be their best album!



7. Up To Anything - The Goon Sax
A few people I follow on Twitter were besides themselves after attending The Goon Sax show at Mono. So I checked them out and kicked myself for not going. Raw, emotional, humour filled, soulful indie guitar pop music. An album that truly sounds like the band were enjoying themselves when they were making it.



8. It Calls On Me - Doug Tuttle
Chiming Byrd-y guitars, gorgeous harmonies and an album that just has a gorgeous feel to it. This was one of the first albums I bought in 2016, away back in January. I walked into Monorail and it was on. I waited and then asked what it was and promptly bought it. This has happened to me so many times in Monorail! Would love to see and hear him live.



9. Let The Record Show: Dexy's Do Irish and Country Soul - Dexy's
Dexy's originally planned to do this album back in 1984/85, they broke up instead. The modern day Dexy's are in exceptional form; Kevin Rowland is such a fantastic artist, full of soul. creative energy and visually captivating. This isn't really a covers album, it's interpretations of songs that mean a lot to Rowland. From the gorgeous opener Women Of Ireland through to a stunning Grazing In The Grass (check the extended Andrew Weatherall edit HERE ) via a run through You Wear It Well this is an album full of pleasure, soul searching an fun.



10. Until The Hunter - Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions
I fell for Hope Sandoval's dreamy vocals when she captivated the indie world in Mazzy Star with the stunning So Tonight That I Might See. She has continued to produce exceptional music with her band The Warm Inventions and also by collaborating with the likes of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Death In Vegas. Her latest release has some real gems and the 7-minute plus Let Me Get There with Kurt Vile is easily one of my songs of the year.



11. Treasure House - Cat's Eyes
My abiding memory of this album is my friend Joe coming round for a few beers and this being one of the albums we listened to. It has dreamy pop, out and out 60's girl group pop, it's very sexual, mysterious and intense.



12. Same Language Different Worlds - Tim Burgess
Hugely refreshing; spontaneous and free flowing. Is how I described this album in my blog HERE

Tim Burgess and Peter Gordon combine to create something special with some really blissful stuff.



13. Eternally Even - Jim James
Just out of the top 10 as I have only discovered the album. I did so by reading this imaginative review in the Sunday Times Culture magazine. It might cause you to check it out too!

It's 1971. Marvin Gaye is on tour promoting What's Going On when, somewhere in the Midwest his band get sick. The only other group in town are four English guys called Pink Floyd. They're named after the bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, so Gaye asks them to back him. 

Had this really happened we'd have a better idea pf what to expect on Jame's second solo album than anything by his band, My Morning Jacket, suggest. It's psychedelic-ambient-soul-protest music, and it will win both your heart and your mind.



14. Barbara, Barbara We Face A Shining Future - Underworld
Ove Nova and Nylon Strung are all kinds of blissed out electro gorgeousness. Stephen Watt was kind enough to write a guest blog; At seven tracks long, the album does not overstay its welcome. It revisits you, on the Monday morning trains - the after work gym workouts - the last smoke of the day - the sodden bus shelters in which we wait, and make everything just right again. 



15. Heartbeats - Vigo Thieves
A testament to a band that could and should have gone further. Ambitious anthems with a touch of Springsteen about some of them - wanting to break out and shoot for the stars. Songs like Heartbeats, Believe, Forever and This Love are songs that should have resulted in Vigo Thieves being the biggest band out of Scotland since Chvrches. 

16. Fading Lines - Amber Arcades
I always love to check out releases from Heavenly Recordings - they have fantastic taste in music and the Amber Arcades album is one that I think will continue to grow on me and one I'll return to again the future and probably think - that should have been in my top 10. Great album artwork/pic too.



17. In Search Of Harperfield - Emma Pollock
A remarkable journey through 11 songs that are imaginative, emotive, fun and ambitious. Pollock is in fine form (career high?) throughout - lyrically clever and bold, melodically playful and soulful in voice. Read my full blog review HERE



18. Blackstar - David Bowie
Bowie was unique and exceptionally creative. Blackstar was quite hard to listen to in the aftermath of his death; it took me a month to buy it. I was rewarded by an ambitious, emotional and soulful album. I Can't Give Everything Away is one of my songs of the year.



19. Faults - The Second Hand Marching Band and Benni Hemm
The album isn't on Spotify so you can listen and order HERE 

And read my blog review that talks of fragile brilliance HERE


20. Kidsticks - Beth Orton
Beth Orton produced quite a sparse but beautiful album that mixed her dreamy folky vibes with electronica. Downstair, Flesh and Blood and Corduroy Legs were particular favourites. Get your headphones on for this one.