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.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Motherwell Makes Music - Night One

Derek Watson of The Banter Thiefs has organised a brand new music festival to promote the best local musicians as well as some of Scotland's raft of emerging talent.

The festival launched last night, using a number of venues across Derek's home town of Motherwell and continues tonight (Saturday) and tomorrow. The Electric Bar and Jack Daniels are the main hosts before the festival moves to Starka and the Railway Tavern on Sunday.

Derek's worked exceptionally hard to pull a multiple venue, 3-night festival together and my good friend Gordon Phipps headed along to check it out last night and he discovered his new favourite young band.

Motherwell Makes Music –Night 1 @ Jack Daniels

Guest blog by Gordon Phipps

I Headed along to the first Motherwell Makes Music festival held over a couple of venues in the town this weekend. The first act I seen when I got there was the closing song of Tommy McGuire who performed a nice cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain utilising a loop pedal to play the main riff while he played the lead part beautifully on an acoustic guitar.

Next up were Alburn who turned the volume up way past 11! The grunge/punk/hardcore quartet performed a few songs from their upcoming debut album. Every song was delivered with venom and passion and seemed louder than the last! Keep your eyes out for their debut album which will be released on 7th April.

The Ranzas had travelled all the way from Ayr to play the festival and treated the crowd to some infectious indie tuneage. Backed by a few fans they had brought through the band treated the crowd to an infectious set of indie pop tunes. Singer Lyle Kennedy looked like a young Kyle Falconer in his impressive jacket and he had a voice to match. Bass player Murray Brough had bass lines reminiscent of Flea and the Chilli Peppers. All round a good show from the boys from the seaside town.

I knew the next band were from Wishaw which obviously had me sitting up in my seat ready to see what they had to offer and holy fuck they did not disappoint! Luna The Professor absolutely blew me away! This band are only 16-18 and played better than most bands I’ve seen at double their age! They opened up with a blistering track and then followed up with brand new song Tonight which is a future dance floor smash with its catchy hook laden crescendo of a chorus! And the hits continued at a frenetic pace each song as good as anything I’ve heard on the radio recently. They’re understanding of vocal harmony at such a young age is incredible and leads to some beautiful moments between singer/guitarist Johnny Irwin and bass player Dave Mcnally. Defintely a band to watch out for!

Luna The Professor

Finally a band I am very familiar with having seen them a number of times over the years was The Begbies. I may have seen them a few times but they seem to be ever changing and maturing and the addition of the two saxophone players was a genius decision that really sets them apart. Kicking off with the brilliant single Sleeping Dogs Singer Gary led the band through a set of their own brand of skindie (ska/indie) hits. Other recent single Stay Young, Stay Free sounded tremendous as did they’re older stuff including one of my favourites Ashleigh. They are sure to be festival favourites this summer and should have a 5 track EP out later this year so keep an eye out for it!

Last but not least was a band of incredible musicians called A Sudden Burst of Colour. This instrumental band attracted the biggest crowd of the night and were reminiscent of Pink Floyd in parts.  The band played some beautiful music and equally bounced off each other musically. I never thought a band with no singer could hold the attention of a Friday night pub crowd but it’s a massive credit to the band’s talent and song craft that every one in their stayed to the end and seemed to be in some sort of transcendental grip of the band.

Amazing night of music all round and amazing night for the local music scene. Let’s hope to see more of this in the future!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My music is my refuge

My music is my refuge. We mustn't lose hope. - Mohammed Mohiedin Anis

As I flicked through the Metro this morning en route into Central Glasgow, I stopped in awe, wonder, shock and amazement at a striking, beautiful and haunting image.

Sitting amongst the horrors of war is 70-year old Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, his home, in Aleppo, destroyed, no walls, no windows, no doors, furniture virtually destroyed, his bed strewn with rubble. Yet his record player still works, he lights his pipe and plays classical music.

The photographer, Joseph Eid, described the image as 'a novel in one shot'. And it is. It says so much about hope, about the power of music, the wonder of getting lost in it, finding comfort, solace, joy....Yet it also clearly portrays and  describes - in one shot - the horror and destruction of war. 

You can read the full incredible article by Ishaan Tharoor via the Washington Post.

It really got me thinking of the times I have sought refuge in music; as a teenager rejected by a girl, or dumped by a girl, those troubled teenage years when you feel alone, that no-one understands, when I didn't get a job I really wanted, when I lost my Dad..... nothing in comparison to the image above.

I tend to think of happier times; truly discovering the power of pop/rock as a kid when I must have played Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer; the pure pop rush and fun of Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now; jumping and moshing around my bedroom to Smells Like Teen Spirit; hearing The Concept by Teenage Fanclub and the joys of duelling guitars and three part harmonies; the wonder of Brown, Squire, Mani and Reni combining to create guitar, bass, drum and vocal melodies, riffs and beats that you could sing; getting lost in Screamadelica, Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb and Jam and Spoon in my friend Reddy's room; punching the air in wild delight to Oasis; walking to the station/work with my cassette personal stereo and swaggering like Tim Burgess in the morning sunshine whilst singing a-long to North Country Boy.....

It keeps going; that joyful moment when you hear a song you have never heard - Kids In America by Kim Wilde at a friends 30th; playing the 7-inch of Hot Chip's A Boy From School at Edinburgh School Of Art and much cooler people than me going crazy and asking who it was; kids at the Wee Red Bar gasping with amazement when I told them the song I just played (Tomorrow Never Knows) was by The Beatles - I had to show them the record and play it again;

Then there is the sheer feeling of elation when band/artist and audience become one like Underworld playing Rez, the sheer ecstasy of Orbital playing Chime and taking it into Belfast, the Roses epic 15-minute Fools Gold at Heaton Park or me crying with joy in Amsterdam when they played Ten Storey Love Song and This Is The One; Marlena Shaw playing California Soul; Candi Statton playing You Got The Love; the DJ at Barraloadasoul dropping (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher; Neneh Cherry doing Buffalo Stance; Jimmy Cliff causing me to cry when he played I Can See Clearly Now at Wickerman; Nile Rodgers and Chic playing one of the best sets I have ever seen; the chills down my spine the first time I saw and heard Brian Wilson playing Good Vibrations or Arthur Lee and Love playing You Set The Scene; my ongoing love affair with Temptation by New Order and the Ritchie Havens version of Going Back To My Roots

Music is my refuge when friends and family create a moment of wonder when everything seems to stop; the moment Stephen Solo plays Crying Because and everyone stops talking and you can hear a pin drop; when my sister and TeenCanteen do an acapella version of Honey; when Stevie Jukes sings let your heartbeat or lets live forever, together we can stay young the audience puts their hands in the air; when Miaoux Miaoux takes an audience on a journey with Stop The Clocks.....

Music is my refuge when I can wander into a bar or gig, escape reality and marvel at the talent of someone original...a cover....when you can enjoy a song, a melody, a chorus, a lyric, a riff....

Music is such a huge part of my life, it has brought me great joy, friendship and love. I know that it will continue to do so. The moment when you can get lost and forget the world, forget everything and just be in the moment is truly special, music can take you there.......

The image that prompted this outpouring is incredible. I hope and I believe that Mohammed Mohiedin Anis got lost for a minute, for a moment, for the length of a song or record, that he was able to escape the horror, the destruction, the tragedy.....

Mohammed Mohiedin Anis, 70, smokes his pipe as he sits in his destroyed bedroom listening to music in Aleppo. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Teenage Fanclub at Shepherds Bush Empire

I have made a number of friends through my love of Teenage Fanclub - you start to chat online via the Message Board and the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub facebook group and then meet in real life at shows and you chat and drink like lifetime friends.

The love of Teenage Fanclub forms a bond with people, it is like instant appreciation and recognition. You think 'I'm going to get on with this person' and 'what other bands/artists do they like?'

The conversation usually starts with Teenage Fanclub and drifts on to music, travel, politics, life, death and the universe. The pre Barrowland Fanclub Fanclub meet up in McChuills last December was fantastic - stories were swapped and people caught up.

At McChuills I met a relatively new recruit to the Fanclub Fanclub, a lovely young guy from Edinburgh by the name of Mark Hannah. He broke his Fanclub cherry at the Liquid Rooms in September (in style by invading the stage at the end) and was now determined to see them as many times as possible.

He told me he was heading to London in February, for the bands final European date before they headed off to America, Japan and Australia.

So of course I asked him to write a guest blog..... I think we'll have him back.


Teenage Fanclub at Shepherds Bush Empire, February 2017

Guest blog by Mark Hannah

We’ve been playing all over Europe for the past 3 weeks so it’s nice to be finishing the tour tonight here…in the European Union.” – Norman Blake

The prospect of a sold out Teenage Fanclub show at an iconic London venue to bring the curtain down on a three-week European tour was absolutely nothing short of tantalising. The band have toured fairly heavily since the release of their new album Here in September so to see the culmination of this leg of the schedule before they headed off to Japan and Australia was something I just couldn’t pass up.

Following the final nights of the British tour in a glorious Glasgow homecoming a few weeks before Christmas, I really got an idea of just how genuinely special and almost life-affirming these nights can be with a band as special and as well-loved as Teenage Fanclub. That wet and windy night in west London would prove to be just that…and more.

I boarded the Virgin Trains East Coast 12:00pm service from Edinburgh Waverley to London Kings Cross that Sunday with the anticipation well and truly tangible. This was going to be my first ever London gig and as the train roared and rattled down through the rolling countryside bound for the Big Smoke; it occurred to me I really couldn’t have picked a better band for this rather seminal moment. I’d found some accommodation for the night in the form of a guest house on Shepherd’s Bush Road, a mere five-minute walk from the venue. It left a lot to be desired; after contending with a bizarre owner who enjoyed sporadic moments of enthusiastic shouting, a faulty room key and a borderline hilarious argument involving some French guests and a breakfast menu, I dumped my Adidas holdall and fired on my Teenage Fanclub t-shirt with the intent of doing a U-turn to get the hell out of there. To be fair, what else did I expect for £30 on

After a few pints of Camden Hells Lager (when in London, eh?) at the Sindercombe Social, I made the 10 yard walk next door to the Empire just as the doors were opening. I made for the front clutching a £5.25 pint of Carlsberg, a far cry from the dirt-cheap pubs in vicinity of the Barrowlands. Nevertheless, the Empire is a genuinely stunning venue, proscenium arch stage, red velvet seating, a fitting venue for Glasgow’s finest musical ambassadors. As the venue fills, a few glances in my peripheral vision and a scan of the balconies reveals I am the youngest person here by a fair margin. Even at the age of 22 however, I’ve had enough yobs shouting and swaying and launching lager everywhere at gigs in previous years to know this is far from a bad thing.

The support act this evening is Euros Childs, a solo keyboard based artist collaborating with Norman Blake in the band Jonny who only stepped into the support slot 48 hours beforehand on the Friday. His melodies are bright and breezy with added touch and humour in his lyrics, the crowd respond well. His final track is Ursula’s Crow and features Norman making a premature appearance to assist on backing vocals. The harmonies between the pair really are fantastic and they depart to loud applause.

As any Teenage Fanclub fan will tell you, the band’s imminent arrival is signified by a pacing “Guitar” George Borowski. As he moves around the stage making last minute adjustments and tunings to the instruments, lone fans cry his name in love and appreciation. His legendary cult status among the Fannies is more than secure.

At around ten to nine in the evening, Teenage Fanclub enter the stage to huge cheers and rapturous applause. As Norman, Gerry, Raymond, Dave and Francis assume their positions, it really is difficult to think how this band could do any wrong. 

They launch their way into I’m In Love and the crowd instantly shower them in love and it is definitely reciprocated. The last night of a Teenage Fanclub tour generally means a somewhat unpredictable set list with a few rarities thrown in, too. The break in the usual order is more than welcomed. The ease and precision among the band as a unit comes across really strongly, easing their way between an explosive Radio and a subtly brilliant Versimilitude

What we are seeing is not just a well-oiled machine that has navigated its way around the continent in previous weeks but a group of old pals who’ve been playing together for literally the best part of thirty years who the crowd stand and admire with loved-up affection. 

Frontman-elect Norman whips up the banter and chat between songs, TV series he needs to catch up on, the wonderful venue and even a subtle gag aimed at the European geographical and political situation. The live harmonies really are exemplary, Norman and Gerry really scraping every last note out of The First Sight, a real personal standout from their latest release, and on somewhat scarce appearances for Dumb Dumb Dumb, Did I Say and My Uptight Life

The fans are also treated to the melodic masterclass of Your Love is The Place Where I Come From, Ain’t That Enough and I Don’t Want Control of You; a triple header of Songs From Northern Britain, an album whose tracks have featured heavily in the recent touring and a record very close to my own heart, too. 

The crowd really are lapping it up, especially the crowd of Spanish speaking voices congregated next to me as they conclude with a heart-warming The Concept.

The encore really is something to behold; the band re-emerge from stage right but with Gerry armed with a green Telecaster and taking up position front and centre of the stage with Norman now this time to his right and filling in on bass. It’s very much a heart in the mouth moment wondering what rarity they are about to pull out from their extensive back catalogue, before easing their way into a chiming, gorgeous and euphoric Going Places from their 1995 album, Grand Prix. The masses can hardly believe their luck as the collective lead riffing of Gerry, Raymond and Dave really take the track to a new level in this very rare live situation. It’s safe to say I was fighting tears during this one, a perfectly timed poignant rendition. 

Gerry takes centre stage for Going Places

The effortless ebb and flow transitions perfectly into a free and easy I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive, proving the offerings from their first album in six years really are just as good as any of their past efforts and exhibits the bands clockwork consistency perfectly. The show eventually reaches its conclusion with an increase in stage volume and effects for Starsign and their seminal first single, Everything Flows.

Teenage Fanclub once again provide the practically perfect evening for the loyal and true who have come from far and wide to their Mecca for the evening that is the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Albums and tours only come around every five or so years nowadays so the need to capture this event, this moment, among the fans is visible as we file out into the pouring rain of Sunday night and for myself, back towards the slightly mental Fawlty Towers-esque guest house I would call home for the night, clutching my fully signed set-list thanks to the one and only Dave McGowan. 

This is absolutely everything I could have hoped for; a fantastic night consisting of a varied set-list, the inevitable rarities, the passion, dedication, and the longevity in their craft of song writing and musicianship that has made Teenage Fanclub one of the best loved bands in the world of independent music. A band with the power to make your heart and mind soar to the highest of heights, creating a wave of harmony and melody to wash over you, purifying your spirit in ways you never thought possible. At the grand old age of twenty-two, I’m a very late comer to the Teenage Fanclub party; but fucking hell what a party I’ve joined.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Introducing Fnuf and the Fairylights

Yesterday (Sunday 5th March) I had a magical sunny afternoon in Kelvingrove Park with my 2 daughters Zoe and Rosie. We had ice-cream, ran around the fountain, played in the swing park, played Pooh sticks and then had the good fortune to stumble across Fnuf and the Fairylights who set up with a portable PA system and played some beautiful, mellow, positive and melodic music that just fitted the Spring day perfectly.

'Hi I'm Fnuf from France and now I live in Govan and these are the Fairylights' was how the lead singer (Fnuf) introduced himself after we wandered around the corner to follow the sound of music.

The second song was The Sun Is Shining and indeed it was. The stripped back 5-piece with Fnuf on guitar and vocals, Trombone and 3 members on percussion, created a brilliant sunshine vibe.

What more could you want on a sunny Sunday in the park? Well Fnuf and the Fairylights had more positive vibes to shine our way - Show Love and We Can All Find Peace being just two of the songs I remember from their set.

Show Love contained a spoken word rap with French accent - it sounded blissful and heartfelt and the five piece all joined in with the chorus to lift it beautifully. Then the trombone took it even higher.

Zoe and Rose had been sent up to throw a few pounds into their guitar case, but after a few songs I asked Zoe if she would like their CD Kelvingroove which was for sale. I was delighted when Fnuf engaged with Zoe and Rosie to hand them stickers which they proudly wore and they took it in turns to clutch the CD as we stayed around in the sunshine to soak up the vibes.

Fnuf told us they were playing a charity night at McChuills that night with an expanded band that I would have loved to have gone to. I definitely intend to seek them out live, although it will be hard to beat watching them in the Kelvingrove sunshine.

Expect a follow up blog and hopefully an interview in the next month or so. You can listen to and buy the album HERE

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Different Drum

Cover version of the month #23

Different Drum by The Lemonheads

Different Drum is a song I discovered via The Lemonheads when they released an acoustic version as a b-side to the It’s A Shame About Ray single in 1993, although the band had originally released it as a 7-inch single back in 1990. I’ve been fortunate to see Evan Dando play it live on lots of occasions. I love the lyrics, melody and the way it flowed. I soon discovered that The Pastels had also covered this gem of a song, as had many more, including The Jayhawks and PP Arnold.

The origins of Different Drum date back to 1965 and Mike Nesmith of The Monkees! Nesmith wrote the song the year he joined The Monkees and it was originally recorded and released by a band called The Greenbriar Boys in 1966. LISTEN HERE

The Stone Poneys (featuring Linda Rondstadt) covered the song and released it in the fall of the summer of love in September 1967 (incidentally the year that Dando was born).

The lyrics, structure and melody are very clever and there is real humour as well. Dando has a long history of cover versions and Different Drum fits him like a glove. It could have been written for The Lemonheads.

There are a number of versions of Evan/The Lemonheads playing Different Drum on YouTube but this is my favourite from the b-side.

And this is the original electric version that The Lemonheads released;

You and I travel to the beat of a different drum
Oh can’t you tell by the way I run
Every time you make eyes at me

You cry and moan and say it will work out
But honey child I’ve got my doubts
You can’t see the forest for the trees

Oh don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me

Yes and I ain’t saying you ain’t pretty
All I’m saying is I’m not ready
For any person, place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me

So good-bye, I’ll be leaving
I see no sense in this crying and grieving
We’ll both live a lot longer
If you live without me

Previous covers of the month