Saturday, 22 April 2017

TeenCanteen - Sirens EP

Released on transparent 10-inch blue and red vinyl with white splatters (each one different) on Record Store Day; TeenCanteen's Sirens EP has 4 songs that will lift you up, make you sing, make you dance and quite possibly bring tears to your eyes.

The title track certainly brought tears to mine. So did Millions once I got through the pop and the melodies to the lyrics. Regular readers will know that Carla (singer-songwriter in the band) is my sister. Both songs are about our Dad who died when I was 24 and Carla was only 15.

The piano version of Sirens is heart stopping; it is tears in the eyes, it is memories, heart break, heart ache, thinking what if? It is the sound of someone pouring their heart out, backed only by harmonies and backing vocals by friends at all the right moments, with only sparse Spector-esque reverb heavy piano for company.

I first heard it in early January in La Chunky studio in Finnieston, Glasgow shortly after completion. Carla asked for the studio lights to be turned off and I sat with the band, producer Stephen Watkins and my wife in total darkness other than the computer screen and the lights on the mixing desk.

It is devastatingly beautiful. When I hear Carla pouring her heart out and singing I wish I had time, I wish I had time in a voice crackling with gets me. It may well get you too. Switch your lights off and listen.

The 4 voices combining to sing I want sunshine pouring through my window is just sublime. It gets better, the song flows and rises superbly.

All I've ever wanted was for a bit longer
To be a mans daughter
But some things
Take much more than a 4 leaf clover
To form realities out of dreams
Let the sirens play
Let the sirens play out loud

I wish I had time so I could define
All of the time you've been on my mind
Reminds me of school days and hanging in the park
Remembering to be home before the dark

Sirens is a new version of a song released on Say It All With A Kiss, the debut album that came out in September 2016. The other 3 songs are all brand new. To follow up the album so quickly is testament to the confidence that the band have and the 4 girls each bring something magical to the record.

What You Gonna Do About Me? is an outpouring of emotion, talking of dreaming, stamping feet, spreading roots, seeing friends and confirming independence. All in 2 minutes and 22 seconds!

You make me wanna skip school
Though I don't go to school anymore
What's the point in living for the weekend?
If I wanna see my friends I'll see my friends
Anytime I want to.....

If I want a minute dreaming in my bedroom
I will take a minute dreaming in my bedroom

Can't Go Back (Starry Eyed) is glorious unashamed pop that you could imagine Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepsen singing. The breakdown and then rise for the final minute is euphoric.

Millions is the lead single from the EP, picking up airplay on 6Music courtesy of Marc Riley. It's punchy and direct, only 3-minutes long and that includes time for backwards psychedelic guitars and the sound of Sita crying real tears at the end.

You're a million, million, million, million miles away
I still feel you near
Though you've disappeared

Oh come back to me if I call your name

TeenCanteen have a string of dates through the summer months, starting today where they play Monorail Records/Mono Cafe bar at 5pm for free as part of Record Store Day. Keep an eye on their social media for info about Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Brighton, Norway, The Great Escape and more.

Order an amazing 10-inch vinyl via the Last Night From Glasgow shop.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Friday Night The Eagles Fly

Introducing The Bar Dogs

L-R: Samuel Joseph Smith (recording/mixing/mastering engineer), Mark Thomson (guest vocals), Robbie Noble (keyboard), Michael Kirkland (guest vocals), John McArthur (lead guitar), Mario Feraud (sax), Scott Duncan McPherson (bass), John Gerard O'Neill (lead vocals), Michael Gahanna (drums/percussion), Tino Macdonald (vocals and guitars)

The Bar Dogs are a young 7-piece rock n roll band who have been tearing around Glasgow since forming in 2015 and this coming weekend they release their debut LP Friday Night The Eagles Fly on Button Up Records.

One of the brilliant things about this record is that it sounds like the band are having real fun, it sounds like they are playing live. It's rock, it's roll, soul, raw, pure and heartfelt. Just look at the picture above, they look like gang that have come together through a love of music....and that really comes across on the LP.

The opening track is ferocious and the pace rarely drops. This is the blue collar rock n roll soul of Springsteen via Glasgow. At under 3-minutes long, Running doesn't hang about, a count of 1-2-3 and the band are flowing from the off with Mario Feraud's saxophone lifting things and John Gerard O'Neill's rasping vocals setting the scene of dead end jobs and dreaming of the weekend. It immediately demanded a second listen as soon as it finished.

I'm going downtown to burn my wage

I'm running but I'm getting nowhere
Hanging round with nothing to do

Things slow down for Dream The Night Away, but the gutsy soul is still there and it is at the heart of every song on the album.

Sorry was a single back in March and it is brilliant rock n roll soul. On this kind of form The Bar Dogs sound like the best bar band in Glasgow and one that should consider upping sticks and heading to New York City (or New Jersey) as soon as they can afford the air fares. Having recently read the epic Springsteen autobiography, I think of scenes he describes, playing bars and wanting to generate a reaction. I apologise if I reference Springsteen a few times in this review, but listen to the album and you'll totally see where I am coming from.

Can you keep up the pace? Cause next out of the traps is Heart Shaped Feeling and the band fly through it at breakneck speed. The piano holds it all together but is also allowed to let rip.

She's got a heart shaped feeling
She's got a heart I'm stealing

If you're gonna love me baby
You better love me all damn night

And they don't let up - Coco is an absolute belter. The band rip and roar through it, the song flows, the drums pound ferociously.  These guys know how to play and John O'Neill sure knows how to sing his heart out.

Glasgow Saturday Night is crying out to be a future single. Sax and piano give this song a beautiful undercurrent but the beat remains as up temp as ever. The break down for all the girls say and all the boys say section is sublime and then it just all goes gloriously crazy.

It's not all 100 mph stuff though, just listen to the gorgeous Want You To Want Me complete with Celtic strings and a stunning piano intro.

Did I say heartfelt earlier? Well The Bar Dogs can also be ultra romantic soppy bastards in a lovely way. Just listen to What A Woman for evidence.

A delicate and gorgeous piano riff ushers in the closing track Freedom. O'Neill contemplates life, love, friends, nights out.....and then the song picks up to the kind of rock n roll pace that you'll have grown accustomed to through the course of the album.

Friday Night The Eagles Fly is gutsy, ballsy, 100 mph rock n roll soul. I don't know of any other Glasgow band that can play like this, write like this or sing like this.

The album is out on Record Store Day and the band then have a launch party at the 13th Note on 6th May. If you want a hot, sweaty, loud rock n roll basement show - this is is going to be the hottest one in town.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Wild Horses

Cover version of the month #24

Wild Horses - The Sundays cover The Rolling Stones

The Sundays were a band I fell for in my early teenage years. Their debut album Reading, Writing and Arithmetic was heralded by the weekly music magazines NME and Melody Maker and the reviews sent me scurrying to buy a copy from Missing Records in Oswald Street in Glasgow. Songs like Here's Where The Story Ends were just gorgeous pop, stunning songwriting. Oh and for a 14/15 year old indie kid, lead singer Harriet Wheeler was the kind of girl you fantasised about when the streets were cold and lonely, dreamy and with a beautiful voice.

I bought The Sundays Goodbye 12-inch single. The b-side was a cover of The Stones Wild Horses, a song I was familiar with through an old battered Stones compilation album owned by my Dad.

The Stones version is a masterpiece in songwriting and delivery. The slow acoustic, Jagger's impeccable vocal (and some of his best lyrics), the beat kicking in, the rise.... it is majestic.

I know I've dreamed you a sin and a lie
I have my freedom but I don't have much time
Faith has been broken tears must be cried
Lets do some living, after we've died

Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses, we'll ride them some day

The solo is exquisite, no-one else could play like that, it is beautiful and soulful.

Who in their right mind would attempt to cover it?

Well a young indie band from Reading decided to tackle it. And of course, nothing could compare to the Stones, but The Sundays version was one that greatly appealed to the 16-year old me and after rediscovering it over 20-years down the line it still does.

Wheeler's voice aches in a different kind of way to Jagger's, hearing a female lead makes the elder me look at the song in a completely different way, appreciate it even more. Wheeler's voice is dreamy, yet soaked in reality, detached, yet present. It is potentially the boldest cover to date in this series.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

2017 Scottish Album of the Year Award - the nominations


The chance to nominate an eligible album for Scottish Album of the Year was open throughout March and the list of nominees is quite incredible; truly highlighting the incredible artistic talent that graces and enhances our small nation. Bands and artists from all kinds of genres are there, we have old bands, brand new bands, DIY releases, major label releases and DIY label releases.

Arguably Scotland's biggest band - Biff Clyro is on the list, old timers enjoying a new lease of life Deacon Blue are there, we have Fatherson, Frightened Rabbit, Amy MacDonald, KT Tunstall, Emeli Sande, the exceptional talent that is King Creosote, the mighty Mogwai, the Mary Chain, personal faves Teenage Fanclub, the effervescent Travis, the returning Trashcan Sinatras and the energetic Twin Atlantic.

Scottish indie/DIY labels (and self releases) are well represented by the likes of Randolphs Leap. Hector Bizerk, TeenCanteen, Ette (Bandcamps number 4 album of 2016), Little Kicks, Machines In Heaven, HQFU, Modern Studies, Mt. Doubt, Rick Redbeard, Sacred Paws.....and much, much more. This is a growing scene and one that offers a real treasure trove of talent.

Scottish hip-hop is represented, folk, country, electronica, classical, avant garde.....there is something for everyone, so much to explore and treasures to discover.

Just 20 albums will make the longlist, that is then whittled down to 10 for the shortlist and they go

through to the SAY Award ceremony in Paisley on 28th June.

The SAY Award has been a welcome and exciting addition to the Scottish music calendar since inception; previous winners are Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat (2012), RM Hubbert (2013), Young Fathers (2014), Kathryn Joseph (2015) and Anna Meredith (2016).

The format of nominees, longlist and shortlist maintains interest and builds excitement and anticipation. The 4-month run from the start of March to the end of June offers music fans around the world ample time to explore Scottish artists from all backgrounds.

However, it is impossible (at least for me) to listen to every single album that has been nominated. That is probably why the SAY Award have 100 judges to start with!

Here is a list of some of the albums I've enjoyed, it will be interesting to see how many make it through to the longlist and the shortlist. Could the winner be among them? Those marked with an * are my own top 10/shortlist, but I look forward to discovering albums as things progress towards the ceremony in Paisley on 28th June.

Barrie James O'Neill - Cold Coffee

* Ette - Homemade Lemonade

Fiona Soe Paing - Alien Lullabies

* HiFi Sean - ___Ft


The Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy

* King Creosote - Astronaut Meets Appleman

Machines In Heaven - Phenomenology

* Mark W Georgsson - Faces and Places

* Modern Studies - Swell To Great

Mt. Doubt - In Awe Of Nothing

Pictish Trail - Future Echoes

Rick Redbeard - Awake Unto

* Sacred Paws - Strike A Match

* Stephen Solo - Pii

* Teenage Fanclub - Here

* TeenCanteen - Say It All With A Kiss

The Little Kicks - Shake Off Your Troubles

* The Pooches - The Pooches

Trashcan Sinatras - Wild Pendulum

The SAY Award is a prestigious and exciting arts prize produced by the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), with confirmed partners for 2017 including Paisley for UK City of Culture 2021Creative ScotlandTicketWeb and PPL. Boasting a lucrative £20,000 prize for the winner and nine runner up prizes of £1,000 each, the award celebrates, promotes and rewards the most outstanding Scottish albums released each year. Respected by artists and valued by the industry, The SAY Award is responsible for a surge in musical discovery and an explosion of impassioned debate on social media. The SMIA is encouraging artists, labels and the general public to submit eligible albums released between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017. #SAYAward #SAYeligible17

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Never Ending Mixtape part 7

This month, I decided to add a few more songs than usual to the Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify, taking the total number of songs up to 100.

It's quite a mix - even if I do so myself!

The Never Ending Mixtape began in October 2016 when I finally discovered Spotify after years of saying I would never use it. Watch The Sunrise by Big Star kicked things off, joined by the Velvets, Spiritualized, Tricky, Massive Attack, Belly, Mazzy Star, The Orb, The Smiths.....all kinds of things.

Each month I make some additions to the Never Ending Mixtape and the blog allows me to either reminisce about old favourites, seeing acts live or where and when I bought/heard the song, or to talk about recent discoveries.

You can check the Never Ending Mixtape below and then read on to find out the latest additions.

Don't Leave Me This Way - Harold Melvin and the Bluenoses
An all time fave, the way this flows and soars and grooves is simply impeccable.  A dancefloor filler.

If You Want Me To Stay - Sly and the Family Stone
Another groover, the vocal is sensational.

Concrete Schoolyard - Jurassic 5
A tune that reminds me of my mate Reddy.

The Message - Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
I've just finished watching the Hip Hop Evolution doc on netflix. Highly recommended.

Temptation - New Order
One of my top 3 songs of all time.

Getting Away With It - Electronic
The perfect pop song for me. Love the lyrics, melody, beats, strings....

No Tears To Cry (Leo Zero remix) - Paul Weller
Sublime, first heard this when Greg Wilson dropped it into one of his mixes.

Miss You - The Rolling Stones
I didn't believe this was the Stones when I first heard it! Jagger is pretty unmistakable though!

Till The End Of The Day - The Kinks

Ogden's Nut Gone Flake - Small Faces
I used to open DJ sets with this instrumental.

Afterglow (Of Your Love) - Small Faces
Listen to Steve Marriott's voice!

Oh Vanity! - The Charlatans
A stomper by one of my all time fave bands.

North Country Boy - The Charlatans
This was my favourite song through the summer of 1997, 20-years ago.

Wide Open - Chemical Brothers featuring Beck
Absolutely gorgeous. They should do an album together.

Brother's Gonna Work It Out - Willie Hutch
First heard this in a Chemical Brothers mix, just wait till the beats and strings come in!

Stoned Love - The Supremes
This will always remind me of the summer of 2012 and seeing the Roses for the first time in Amsterdam and Heaton Park.

Les Fleur - Minnie Ripperton

Memphis Soul Stew - King Curtis
How good is this? Sounds like it was constructed live in the studio, like it is a jam.

Green Onions - Booker T and the MG's

Friday, 31 March 2017

Last Night From Glasgow 1st birthday

Last night in Glasgow, Last Night From Glasgow Records celebrated our first birthday bash at Stereo in the heart of the city, with performances from BooHooHoo, Medicine Men, Emme Woods and Sister John. The evening was compered by Stephen Solo, we had quality tunes from label DJ Phil Redfearn and creative director Brian Sweeney was on hand to capture the event on film. Label members shared the sense of celebration and everything came together to create an incredibly positive atmosphere. We had done it; 12-months in the bag, a treasure trove of releases and bundles to look forward to.

Was it really only on 22nd February 2016 when the 6 co-founders all met together for the first time?Was it really only March 2016 when we launched?

So much had happened in that time. And now, here we were....

The upstairs bar in Stereo was already busy when I arrived just before 6pm and it was fantastic to see a queue of people snaking down the Stereo stairs for doors opening at 7.30pm.

Picture by Brian Sweeney

Sister John were signed to the label towards the end of 2016, before we had even seen them play live. I had personally only seen them at the LNFG Xmas bash when they played cover versions. Their demos had really heightened my sense of anticipation and their live set was a joy. Swapping instruments with ease and delivering stunning 3-part harmonies. Amanda McKeown has a voice that can swoop and soar, one that can send shivers down your spine and one that can warm your heart. Come and check them out at the Old Hairdressers on Sunday 23rd April.

Picture by Brian Sweeney

Emme Woods has been with the label almost from the start, watching her develop has been a joy. A conversation with guitarist Jamie Logie revealed that Morgan (Emme) has songs pouring out of her and plans for a mini-album have changed to a full album. I think of catching Emme for the first time at our launch party last June, she had barely picked up an electric guitar before. Now her cheekier grin is even cheekier, she has a swing and swagger when she plays, her voice has grown stronger, her songs are richer, playful, soulful, imaginative and confident. Emme has 2 big showcase shows coming up in the near future at Wide Days in Edinburgh and the Great Escape in June. Watch this bird soar. Her set last night was a delight, the confidence to throw in You Really Got A Hold On Me spoke volumes and recent digital single I've Been Running was even better live, the key change to the chorus with stabbing horns was uplifting and delightful.

Picture by Brian Sweeney

Next up were Medicine Men, led by the charismatic Ian McKinnon. Opening with Show What You're Made Of set the tone for the rest of a ferociously energetic set. Sleeping With The Light On had a real groove, Bruised Peach was delivered with fire with McKinnon hammering home the fall in love again, fall in love again refrain, while Eggshells was simply stunning, a beautifully written song with a strong melody and one that just builds and builds. Set closer Out Of The Light was a triumph blending Chemical Brothers with Primal Scream, it was great to look around the room and see heads nodding approvingly. Medicine Men's debut album is officially out in May, but look out for something on Record Store Day.

Picture by Brian Sweeney

It was Boo Hoo Hoo who headlined, bringing their infectious electro art pop to Stereo and getting people dancing like it was 1989. They are armed with more hooks than Rocky, they have fun on stage and off and their album is going to rammed with glorious pop music. The bass on Mould Me almost demands a dance,  Fire was sensational and Dreams Tonight was a euphoric delight, the bit where the synth kicks in to lift the song even higher is incredible. At the end they got one of their energetic friends to come down by the stage and dance along and it just lifted the feel good atmosphere even higher.

There was just time for Stephen Solo to come on at the end to play what has become the labels anthem - Crying Because. This tender beauty was sung with heart and soul, you could have heard a pin drop and the closing refrain Love Is Everything is one that we proudly have emblazoned on the sleeve of our new LNFG t-shirts, designed by 8-year old Levon Smith.

Pic by Brendan Waters

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Raining On Hope Street

We have experienced all kinds of weather in Glasgow recently. This time last week it was snowing, at the weekend we had glorious sunshine and the previous week brought torrential downpours.

That week, I walked through central Glasgow as the rain poured from grey skies, the streets shimmered with car headlights bouncing off the water and people scurried to cars, buses and trains. I trudged down to Central Station and was reminded that I had a blog to finish and publish.

With a title that instantly connects with Glaswegians, Raining On Hope Street, is the latest single by Spinning Coin, available digitally and on lovely 7-inch vinyl by the good folks at Geographic.

You can read a previous blog on their debut single and interview with Sean Armstrong HERE

On to Raining On Hope Street - Fuzzy and chiming reverb-y guitars combine with strained and soulful vocals over a shuffling beat to create the kind of song that I love. The lyrics are playful and heart warming; statements of advice, intent, friendship and love. The poetic every day line about milk and tea is genius. The advice to just walk at dawn is heartfelt beauty.

don't go racing cars out on the ridge
just walk at dawn instead

if you're coming home can you bring some milk?
i want to make a brew

if I had a love heart, I'd give it to you
I would give it to you

surely giving it away is a start
I'm giving away my heart
As we go out
Don't be scared
I'm your friend

The promo film by Blair Young is just perfect; shimmering sunshine like the shimmering guitars.

Spinning Coin have been super busy in the year since I first blogged about them; playing a number of headline shows, touring with Teenage Fanclub, recording with Edwyn Collins and really gearing up for the release of their debut album, due in August.

A late summer release will be perfect timing for the Spinning Coin sound. It feels like an age since I fell hook, line and sinker for a Glasgow guitar band and all the signs are pointing to this being a lasting relationship.