Saturday, 18 November 2017

Sun Rose and L Space at Nice n Sleazy

Last night I caught two stunning bands in the basement of Nice n Sleazy, both blew me away.

I introduced L-Space in a previous blog. I was really looking forward to seeing them live and they didn't disappoint. Singer Lily wore a headband that lit up and started the set kneeling in front of a tiny keyboard at the front of the stage, picking out a beautiful melody, covered by an umbrella that also lit up. Her band mates created a beautiful wall of noise to back her up.

The 4-piece were refreshingly different to any band I have seen in Glasgow in a while. Gordon Johnstone played some brilliant riffs and melodies on guitar, before at times unleashing some ferocious white noise. Synth player Maura Keane looked super cool, creating some great sounds, whilst bassist Dickson Teller kept the groove.

Blue Flowers was a highlight for me as I've really fallen for that song, but in truth the whole set was incredibly impressive and there were knowing nods from the people around me that we were witnessing a band with huge potential. The crowd responded with increasing applause and hours after each song. A great set.


Sun Rose were launching their debut LP The Essential Luxury by playing their first ever show after a grand total of four rehearsals. The album was created by Albert Kawmi, Calum Muir and Gus Wemyss between Glasgow and Manchester, with emails playing an important role.

The trio gradually pieced together a stunning album full of inventive beats, breaks, layers, sounds, melodies and harmonies. With no band name, social media or gigs to concern themselves with, this gave them an almost unique freedom in todays day and age to take their time.

I'll be blogging about the sublime and blissful album in the very near future. What were they like live?

The trio became a 6-piece for the night; lining up with Calum and Gus playing back to back synths, Albert on bongos, maracas and very occasional synth, backed by guitar, bass and drums.


What a treat! The band played superbly. Albert told us how it was his first live show in 4-years. He looked confident and full of joy. Calum and Gus looked deep in concentration, playing synths, getting involved in funky percussion and both complimented Albert superbly with harmonies and backing vocals. Their band mates looked delighted to be playing to a packed Sleazys and to be involved in creating such sublime music live.

Debut single Smirk gave us an indication of the style and capabilities of Sun Rose live. They were on it - funky, sublime and able to recreate the layers and changes in pace that they beautifully offer on their album,

Dry In The Water was outstanding; surging upwards, dropping back to almost nothing before soaring sky high and taking the audience on a journey with them.

Second single Minima was blissful and the band had the confidence not only to sing a song in Arabic but to also drop in a cover version of The Pointer Sisters Automatic.

Singer Albert was quick to thank the band, their friend who drove them to and from Manchester, the audience and then his wife Lynsey who was celebrating her birthday. The audience sing song was followed by Albert coming into the audience for a kiss. There was a collective awwwww, a nice touch as Albert when back on stage and told us of how he broke the news to Lynsey that they were launching the album on her birthday.

The band ended their set with Counting Upwards, the beautiful closing number from their album. They got lost in the gorgeous sounds they were producing and there is a section where things just build to a euphoric mantra.

There was no encore. Just grateful thanks to the audience and to Last Night From Glasgow who Albert said the album and gig wouldn't have happened without.

What will they do next? Will they play again? A packed Sleazys will hope so. And for any festival promoters reading this - get them booked. Blissful, funky and euphoric.

Album review to follow. Check it on Spotify HERE or order vinyl HERE











Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Introducing L Space

Photo by ChumChi

The older I get, the harder it becomes for a new young band to get me really excited. Or it could just be that although there may be countless new bands and not that many of them are actually very good or exciting! It’s probably a bit of both.

I mean, do I need to go searching like I used to when I already have access to so much music I love and the fact that it is easier than ever to explore back catalogues of bands/artists of years gone by?

Of course I do! I’m always looking for new music to fall in love with, I will forever chase the buzz of falling head over heels for a new band that are breaking or just waiting to break through.

Anyway, I’ve found a new band that I’ve fallen for. They are pretty brand new, although they have already put out an incredible amount of music through 2017. L Space are the band in question. Gordon Johnstone, Lily Higham, Dickson Telfer and Maura Keane span the Central belt of Scotland and come together to ‘write music about the future using big synths, dreamy guitar and ethereal vocals’ and their Facebook describes them as dream pop, electronic and cinematic.

L Space have released 11-songs to date through 2017 via a series of digital (to my knowledge) EP’s and singles. The quality more than matches the quantity.

I chose Blue Flowers to check out first as I liked the title and I fell for it on first listen; think Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval fronting Portishead.



Photo by Brendan Waters

But there is so much more – this is not a band who find a formula and stick with it, this is a band looking to utilise the sounds at their disposal and the wonderful voice of Lily Higham. Brother Mars is an acoustic comedown gem that those of my generation could compare to early Beth Orton – sublime.

Space Junk meets their dream pop, electronic and cinematic biog head on, whispered vocals that rise with ease, changes in pace and beats at all the right moments and building to a glorious and euphoric conclusion.

When it all just gets too much
I can drift off, drift off, drift off
I am living like space junk

Southern Reach is a dark and menacing instrumental, dropping to a bubbling synth and sampled vocal. Propaganda sounds like a companion piece, with huge beats introduced to dramatic effect halfway through. Carry Armour has drum n bass beats with more sampled voices and a cinematic feel, while Escape V4.1 and So It Goes are hauntingly beautiful.

The band seem incredibly creative with their beats, layers, soundscapes and melodies and I can’t wait to see them live. In the meantime check a Spotify playlist of their releases to date and an interview with the band below.



Photo by ChumChi

How did L Space form? Where and when?

Lily: L-space formed gradually in the prebiotic pools of various workplaces and arts events. Gordon I met when we both needed to glue our shoes together at work, Dickson I met through his spoken word and writing (check it out) and Gordon knew him through his work with The Grind, and Maura I met in a world of unending noodles at the restaurant we worked at. We glooped together and good music came out.

Where did the name come from?

Lily: The name is based on an alternate dimension in the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett. Because knowledge = power, and books contain a lot of knowledge, they warp space and time, creating another dimension. You can access the dimension through places like libraries and book shops where there are large amounts of books, and when you enter you can see bookshelves stretch off endlessly in all directions. In Terry P's words "[a] good bookshop is just a genteel blackhole that knows how to read." Basically, I like books and I like physics, so this name is cool.

Did you have a vision for what the band would sound like then? If not, how quickly did you arrive at ‘your sound’?

Lily: I had some vision: I wanted to write beautiful, interesting, noisy music with a mixture of electronic elements and 'real' instruments, creating a retrofuturistic sound while not being too cold and digital. But most of our sound came together naturally from the combination of the band's talents and influences. For example, in my case, I read a lot of sci-fi and like to read about future technologies that will make our world better, so those themes often make their way into my lyrics. Also my voice seems physiologically fixed to have a particular sound to it, and I am working with that sound and its limitations and qualities to find melodies and tones that fit our visions.

Gordon: I think I always had a clearer idea of what I didn't want us to be more than what I thought we would sound like. I definitely didn't want us to be another guitar band or a soulless electronic group. It's important to me that people know there's a very human heart to our songs even when the music is largely created on synths and tackles fairly futuristic topics. Many of the songs start as fairly abstract soundscapes and become fully formed songs when we add bass and vocals, so our sound is somewhere between the two extremes.

Dickson: With writing most of our music on synths and having Lily as our singer, we always knew we were going to have an ethereal sound. Then we added groove and noise and . . . ta-dah!

Maura: Gordon and Lily have been the main masterminds of the sound, but I think we're always trying new things and looking for different influences.

You have released 11-songs already. How do you go about creating/writing? Where do you record?

Lily: Sometimes we write together, building up songs from a base idea that one of us has come up with, but other times we are a very modern band that does most writing separately and sends each other our recordings electronically. Praise to our great internet lord. We record most of the synths at home and record the vocals and instruments at Homegrown Productions studio on a farm in Larbert. We have good fun recording there and it has the benefits of a resident cat and dog. However, one time the cattle escaped and we had to wait until the cows came home before we could finish! When I write a song alone at home I usually start off messing around on my guitar or with beats and sounds on my computer and humming along to find a melody I like. Then I record it terribly on my phone and send it to the others.

Gordon: I usually start with one synth tone, or one chord, I like and build from there. It's not unusual for our songs to have forty or fifty layers on them, but usually we strip a lot of them out when everyone adds their various parts. I love densely layered production like El-P and 65daysofstatic and I think that shapes our music a lot. One of my pet hates is when a song doesn't have an identifiable "good bit", so the music I write almost always builds to a climax or some kind of crescendo. 

Dickson: Usually Gordon writes the skeleton and then we all jump in, bringing our own thing to the party.

Maura: Gordon is always coming to us with new songs and ideas - you can't stop him writing songs. I think it's amazing to work with people who have so much to give musically and are so creative, very exciting and inspiring for the future.

The releases to date highlight quality and quantity. Are you always creating new sounds and songs? Is that important for you?

Lily: I am always coming up with new ideas for songs. It happens when I'm playing around with my guitar or noises on the computer, or it might just happen while I'm walking somewhere or in the shower. I even dream songs sometimes! Many ideas get lost as I don't record them before I forget them, but if I can I try to remember them in some way so we can use them for future songs. It is important for me to always have this creative output as it gives me a feeling of purpose and value.

Gordon: Constantly creating things means the world to me. Since L-space started I've realised that I'm exceptionally difficult to work with sometimes. I've got this compulsion where I can't stop creating music and I constantly want to release it and put it out into the world, but that doesn't always sit comfortably with a band moving at a sensible pace. I pushed us all quite hard for a few months to release a lot of music and do a lot of shows and it payed off when Last Night from Glasgow signed us. Now we can take our time with the album, be pickier with our gigs, and generally enjoy the creation process a lot more!

Dickson:  Yes. It's a good disease.

What have been your highlights from 2017?

Lily: It's hard to choose! One highlight was playing at MugStock festival in the pouring rain while Dickson's dog Dasher ran on stage and while most people were sheltering, two people were dancing in the rain in front of the stage and having a great time. It was nice to see them enjoying it, and for us it was an unusual and memorable experience. Also dog.

Gordon: For me I think it was when Last Night from Glasgow told us they wanted to release our album. It was the culmination of months of hard work and a lifetime's ambition. Knowing that we have a goal and a purpose, that a group of people believe in what we were doing enough to put their name behind it, means the world to me. In terms of the music itself I think it was when we played at a small show for a sci-fi magazine called Shoreline of Infinity. It felt like we turned a corner in terms of our performance and how we were received.

Dickson: Playing a street corner as part of the Merchant City festival and going down well. Also, listening to the final mix of Aloe on Elie beach. I had recorded my bass and then gone on holiday while the others did their thing. It was really cool watching the waves and listening to our latest creation at the same time (cos usually first listen is in the studio)

Maura: I loved playing the Merchant City Festival in the summer, playing outside right on the street and being really noisy. Releasing our single Aloe and getting signed by Last Night From Glasgow are up there too!

So you’ve essentially released an albums worth of songs. But you’re now working on your first album. Will that effect how you approach things and the way you write/create? E.g. will it be written to flow together, or will it be business as normal and anything goes?

Lily: We have all our songs written separately, but I think because they have been written in quite a short space of time, they have all been created from the same kind of 'zone' of ideas and phase of our music writing. The themes of the songs are mostly looking forward to a utopian future and so far I think they all have the L-space sound to them. Because of this, the songs sound like they go together, and all that is left is to put them in an order that most keeps the listener engaged, and with songs next to each other that enhance each other.

Gordon: I think because we have a fairly good idea of how we want to sound the songs will sound pretty coherent. The songs have all been written fairly recently, but some of the ideas on the albums are things I've had rattling around since I was 16 and it has taken L-space to make them work and sound how they should. The overarching theme of a better future is something I think will always underpin our music.

Dickson: There are always plenty songs. We're re-working a couple but the rest are new and fresh, and cool, and noisy, and lovely.

What music are you enjoying at present?

Lily: 65daysofstatic, Julien Baker, The Twilight Sad, Bjork's newest album and the Cocteau Twins record given to me by our record label Last Night from Glasgow.

Gordon: Tusks, The Samuel Jackson 5, Tom Waits, Run the Jewels, Deltron 3030, Lana Del Rey

Dickson: Sun Rose, Agnes Obel, Bicep, Public Service Broadcasting


Maura: I'm listening to lots of electronic music right now, I saw Sylvan Esso live the other night, the energy was amazing. I'm enjoying discovering a Japanese artist called Shintaro Sakamoto who is more 70s pop-rock.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Baby I Need Your Loving


Motown Monthly #2


How good a song is this? The urgency is immediate, you get a sense of it from the title alone. This isn't someone dreaming, wishing, wanting or longing for a love. This is someone needing it, someone who has got to have it all.

I've always loved this song but it took on a whole new meaning for me when I heard it at the Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom at the annual Barraloadasoul event a couple of years ago. It came blasting out of the speakers in mid-evening after an impassioned intro from the DJ. He raised his hands in the air singing a-long and the crowd responded accordingly.

Research has just told me that this is in fact the debut single by The Four Tops. In that case it is surely one of the best debut singles of all time!

It is a Holland-Dozier-Holland special and the group formed a special affinity with the master songwriters thanks to their love of lead singer Levi Stubbs incredible vocal range. They deliberately wrote for him to push his vocals to the extreme and between 1964-1967 they crafted gems like Reach Out I'll Be There, Bernadette and Standing In The Shadows Of Love.

In under 3-minutes H-D-H create the ultimate plea for love. This song has everything, the musicianship is impeccable and it turns out that H-D-H had the music before the words. And oh what words, simple but devastatingly effective. And oh with those lead vocals and the sensational backing vocals.... the impact is quite incredible.

Just listen to the oooh backing vocals during the last verse that then change to i need you and i want you baby. And when the four voices combine it just sounds so soulful and sublime.

Lonely nights echo your name
Oh sometimes I wonder
Will I ever be the same
You know things have gotten worse
Any smile you might see has all been rehearsed
Darling I can't go on without you
This emptiness won't let me live without you
This loneliness inside darling
Makes me feel half alive

Baby I need your lovin'
Got to have all your lovin'






Monday, 6 November 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 16

The latest section of the mixtape is wildly eclectic; taking in the pure pop euphoria of Robyn, a crazy song title by Nina Simone, a song by Bob Dylan that I hadn't heard before (well he has plenty!), a couple of cool cover versions, a little nod to David Holmes, some beauties by Death In Vegas, the giants of Marley, Hendrix and Brown and plenty more besides.

I add to the Never Ending Mixtape, my Spotify playlist on a monthly basis and blog about it here. There are now almost 350 songs on the playlist; dig in and enjoy. You'll need to scroll down to play the latest additions that are listed below.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape or click HERE.


 

Dancing On My Own - Robyn
Shhhhh (For A Little While) - James Brown
Cissy Strut - The Meters
Dancing Drums - Ananda Shankar
Crosstown Traffic - Jimi Hendrix
Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter - Nina Simone
Higher Ground - Ellen McIlwaine
Tom Cat - Muddy Waters
Holiday Girl - Arab Strap (David Holmes remix)
Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart - Dusty Springfield
Sacrilege - Yeah Yeah Yeah's
Little Green Bag - George Baker Selection
The Man In Me - Bob Dylan
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
I Heard Wonders (Andrew Weatherall mix) - David Holmes
69 Police - David Holmes
23 Lies - Death In Vegas w/ Susan Dilate
Help Yourself - Death In Vegas w/ Hope Sandoval
Could You Be Loved - Bob Marley

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Nick Cave at the Glasgow Hydro

At the end of September my social media feeds were awash with reports of Nick Cave giving an exceptional performance in Glasgow. I posted and tweeted that I'd be happy to accept a guest review and John Welsh kindly responded...only I didn't notice the email until much later!

Sorry for the delay John, but this is a great blog and you are very welcome to write for Everything Flows again in the future.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Glasgow Hydro 27 September 2017

Photo by Rachel McLean

Let’s cut to the chase. A substandard Nick Cave gig is as rare as hen’s teeth and on this effort the prodigious Antipodean certainly didn’t disappoint.  

Kicking off with a trio of songs from the most recent studio album, Skeleton Tree, it was an understated beginning to the gig, the melodies of Anthrocene, Jesus Alone and Magneto almost muted and ethereal in their delivery.

Any question marks about how the Bad Seeds intricate sound would come across in the huge arena environment were quickly dispelled form the start. Indeed, the wider space and scope worked well, with multi instrumentalist and Cave’s partner in crime, Warren Ellis driving the band forward to increasing heights of musical ingenuity.

Higgs Bosom Blues and From Her To Eternity saw the band and Cave break out, the latter cinematic in its elegance, and at times violently brutal in its delivery. The band approached each song with equal measures of venom and subtlety, resulting in a mesmerising soundscape of riffs and soaring melodies from perhaps the world’s finest (rock) lounge band.

Red Right Hand, against a sleazy, crimson backdrop which wouldn’t have looked out of place in an episode of Twin Peaks was well received, guitarist George Vjestica sliding rhythms shining through. The hunched, menacing spectre of Cave’s lithe shadow, seemingly snaking up and around the Hydro walls merely added to the thrill.

Throughout, Cave was on fine form with quite a bit of humour evident. Leaning into the crowd at one point he commented “this is sexual harassment” as perhaps someone grabbed a bit more than was expected.  

The Weeping Song kicked off the encore, Cave wading through the crowd to deliver his sermon atop a camera gantry, before leading fans to the stage for a tumultuous Stagger Lee and the set closer Push The Sky Away.  
   
A triumph.

JOHN WELSH

@welshjb 

Photo by Rachel McLean

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Purple Rain

Cover version of the month #30
Kerr McCluskey covers Purple Rain by Prince

I guess my blog is kind of like a diary; logging what I am listening to at any given time and detailing some of the gigs I attend. In that sense, the October cover of the month had to document a little event that took place recently, one that will stay with me for some time.

Last week I was compere at my daughters Primary School disco. There were some truly incredible costumes there as I worked with the DJ through games to keep the kids entertained.

At the primary 4-7 disco a young guy was dressed as Prince and he came up to the stage to ask us to play a Prince song. I half-jokingly asked him if he would be up for singing. In reply he asked if I was serious, I said I was and he could sing or mime. He asked if he could get my phone to listen to Purple Rain before getting up and if he could have the words on screen.

I admired his confidence and off he went with my relatively new iPhone7. Very trusting on my part! I tracked him down 10-minutes later, after wondering if I had been too trusting, in a quiet corner near the tuck shop listening to the song. He was ready.

I got back on stage and said to the crowd that we had a very special guest, one of the biggest pop stars of all time and I introduced Prince to the stage. I still didn't know this kids real name or if he would be any good. I just like giving people a chance and this wee guy had already impressed with his attitude.

I was blown away. All of a sudden this young lad was hitting some incredible notes. The first chorus took off! When he got to the I know times are changing section he just soared. My spine was tingling and I had goosebumps as the young Prince grew more confident as the song progressed and the crowd cheered him on.

I felt like I had witnessed something genuinely special. The song finished and I discovered that our young Prince was called Kerr. I gave him a big hug and a friendly punch on the arm and told him how amazing he was.

I couldn't get his performance out of my head and the next morning asked my friend (and Halloween disco organiser Efric) if she had filmed it. Volunteers on the night came rushing in from the Tuck Shop to hear and see the performance and Efric had been taking pics. Thankfully she switched to video.

I posted the film on my Facebook and like me everyone was blown away. I've been friends with Laura Boyd from STV for a long time since her days singing in the band Pooch. Laura PM'd me and asked if STV could show the video. 

So after getting in touch with Kerr's Mum and introducing her to Laura, the video was edited, posted and tweeted by STV and is again getting a great response. Over 100,000 views!

I have to admit to getting a real buzz out of this. Kerr is pure raw sensational talent and I hope to see and hear him sing again in the near future. He'll need to get a proper video of him singing Purple Rain cause this one is a little dark!

And what can you say about Purple Rain by Prince? It is a stunning song, one that deserves a blog in its own right. But for now, just listen to this exceptional and exciting raw talent.


Previous covers of the month





Tuesday, 24 October 2017

I Wish It Would Rain


Motown Monthly 1


I've been digging into the extensive catalogue of Tamla Motown with relish and joy recently. Without wanting to mention Spotify again, they really have made it easy and addictable to explore albums, b-sides, demos and rarities.

I became acquainted with Motown at an early age courtesy of some records my Mum owned; a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell duets album with Sheila Easton in pencil on the back sleeve just in case anyone borrowed (and forgot) or picked up the wrong copy at a party back in the Sixties or Seventies.

So I'm going to start a monthly Motown blog on certain songs, singles, artists or times. And I'm going to begin with a song by The Temptations called I Wish It Would Rain.

A short piano and bass intro leads to the piano being dropped and singer David Ruffin singing with real heartbreaking soul that wishes the sunshine and blue skies would go away cause he has lost his love.

Sunshine, blue skies, please go away
My girl has found another, and gone away
With her went my future, my life is filled with gloom
So day after day, I stay locked up in my room
I know to you it might sound strange
But I wish it would rain

It is an incredible opening verse that sets the scene and the second verse takes it a step further and at one point Ruffin sounds lost for words after stating listen, I got to cry, the ooooh before he explains that crying eases the pain is sublimely soulful and tugs on the heart strings.

Cause so badly I wanna go outside (such a lovely day)
Everyone knows that a man ain't supposed to cry
Listen, i got to cry, 'cause crying
Eases the pain, oh yeah

It just gets better, yet there is even more pain and self therapy with Ruffin singing that he longs for rain so he can go outside and hide his tears in the rain. There is no holding back the pain in the song.

Lyricist Rodger Penzabene penned the song just after learning that his wife was cheating on him. He would commit suicide barely a week after the single's release.

I need rain to disguise the tears in my eyes
I'm a man I got my pride
'til it rains I'm gonna stay inside

Producer Norman Whitfield created much of the musical structure to accompany Penzabene's heartbreaking poetry, with Barret Strong composing the piano intro on a piano with only ten working keys! The music is perfect for the song, there is real melancholic heartbreak in this record, it is stunning.

I Wish It Would Rain reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3-weeks and later be covered by Percy Sledge, Gladys Knight and the Pips and also by Marvin Gaye on the b-side of Lets Get It On.

Many, many Motown songs are about guys/girls longing for a lost love but I Wish It Would Rain may well be the most heartbreaking of the lot. It is a gem.