Monday, 29 June 2015

Wickerman 2015 preview

The line-up for the 2015 Wickerman Festival is their strongest to date while remaining typically eclectic; offering a fantastic mix of new and up and coming music alongside established and legendary artists.

Synergy Concerts have taken over the booking of acts for the festival and they have brought in some of their favourites and used their experience to bring in some acts that could and should make Wickerman 2015 the best yet. If only they could book the sunshine!

Who am I looking forward to?...

In no particular order, here are 20 acts that I am hoping to catch over the course of the weekend...

Of course there is much, much more on offer and part of the joy of Wickerman is just wandering around the beautiful site and taking in a melting pot of everything.

Stereo MC's
Stereo MC's at the Barrowland Ballroom back in 2002-ish was an incredible show. Over 10-years down the line Stereo MC's live shows still have a reputation for being high energy; with singer Rob Birch bounding all over the stage and getting the crowd on his side with ease.

The 1992 album Connected spawned massive singles including the title track, Step It Up and Ground Level. An early evening slot in the sunshine would be a perfect time for this band. Funk, pop, dance and soul.

Sugarhill Gang
I caught the Sugarhill Gang at King Tut's last summer. Rappers Delight will be one of the songs of the festival and the summer. Look out for loads of people trying to rap along.

Lulu is sure to get the party started. Shout is going to be a massive Wickerman hit with the audience bellowing along. Little known fact - Lulu has also written some monster hits including Tina Turner's I Don't Wanna Fight so expect her band to play some of these songs and some choice covers - Lulu released a cover of Bowie's Man Who Sold The World back in the day.

Up The Junction is a guitar pop fave of mine, it is pure pop perfection and the thought of singing a-long to it at Wickerman is a good one. Squeeze have much more than that in their arsenal though and I expect them to be a real festival favourite and gain many new fans.

Neneh Cherry
Buffalo Stance at a sunny Wickerman - oh please, please, please. Neneh Cherry's show at SWG3 received outstanding reviews, as did her last album. The lyrca and shell suits may be gone but Neneh will bring a set of sassy funk, jazz, pop and soul to Wickerman. Sure to be a hit. Check this extended re-editversion of Buffalo Stance

Pic from

Julian Cope
The legendary Julian Cope is a must see for me. Pop hits like World Shut Your Mouth and Trampolene will hopefully feature alongside some material from The Teardrop Explodes and surely Out Of My Mind On Dope On Speed will be a festival anthem for many

Jimmy Cliff
I can't wait to see this genuine legend live and to hear his stunning voice on hits like Many Rivers To Cross, The Harder They Come, Wonderful World Beautiful People and  You Can Get It If You Really Want. Sunshine reggae vibes will be perfect for Wickerman.

The Waterboys
I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon
What a song! It flows, rises, soars and keeps on going. Expect people to be dancing around and punching the air with glee when The Waterboys drop this. It is their defining moment and rightly so - not many artists write something as good. Mike Scott and co will astound with their tight musicianship and songs from throughout their career with may lifted from the Fisherman's Blues album.

Tal National
Brian Reynolds who is one of the bookers for Wickerman 2015 has mentioned this band a few times on his Facebook page. He then tweeted me to make sure I checked them out ahead of the festival. I can understand why.

One of the great things about Wickerman is that it will give bands a chance and literally a platform. Tal National's jazzy african rhythms could steal the show - expect quite a performance if their videos are anything to go by. Embrace it.

BMX Bandits
Bellshill legends the BMX Bandits have just been announced as the first headliners for the new Phoenix Tent. Their warm guitar pop is sure to be a festival favourite. Serious Drugs is their most famous song, but look out for some stunning songs from recent albums and I hope they also play songs like Little Hands.  I know I'll be going to see them and if you haven't then you should try to pop in.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
A rush of indie guitar pop always warms my heart and this band are masters at that. Catchy, fuzzy, fun, melodic and pure - I look forward to seeing them play songs like Heart In Your Heartbreak.

Kathryn Jospeh
The winner of the 4th annual SAY Awards with her stunning debut album Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I Have Spilled. Check the gorgeous live version of Bones below. Kathryn's music and reputation is growing by the week, making this a perfect booking for Wickerman - an artist on the rise.

Miaoux Miaoux
Electronic pop pushed as far as possible. Miaoux Miaoux are capable of sublime moments and also downright dirty dance stuff like Hey Sound! Stop the Clocks is one of my all time favourite songs and It's The Quick off their new album could be your favourite of the festival.

Catholic Action
Are another new band I intend to make the time to see at Wickerman. Their upbeat punky guitar pop is winning them lots of fans. Check L.U.V for evidence of what to expect - could be a real highlight if they have a set of songs like this.

The Sonics
Legendary garage band The Sonics have some incredible songs and their guitar sound is one that many look to for inspiration with James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem being a real fan of their raw punk edge. Have Love Will Travel is a garage classic.

Errors are on the rise and made the shortlist for the SAY Award this year with their latest album Lease Of Life. Their expansive, spacey, electronic vibes and soundscapes will gain them new fans at Wickerman.

Ela Orleans
Stephen Pastel has been on about Ela Orleans for ages, converting Tim Burgess among others to the beautiful leftfield electronic pop that the Polish artist (now residing in Glasgow) is capable of creating. Listen to The Sky And The Ghost below for starters and imagine this at Wickerman.

Withered Hand
Withered Hand is gaining fans with every release and performance. He blew me away with a solo show in tiny Bowlers Bar last summer. Dan Willson has an incredible ear for melody and his lullaby voice is a joy to listen to.

Tuff Love
Tuff Love are picking up fans as they go about their busy touring schedule; supports with Ride and an assortment of festivals added on to their own gigs over the last year or so have turned this fuzzy scuzzy indie guitar act into one that is road ready and set to win you over. They were in brilliant form at the SAY Award ceremony and i look forward to seeing them at Wickerman.

Neon Waltz
I have yet to catch Neon Waltz live and fully intend to do so at Wickerman. The band hail from Wick in the Highlands and the fact that they are so removed from any 'scenes' has stood them in good stead as they remain true to their own style and tastes. Definitely ones to watch over the next year or so.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mogwai at Glasgow Barrowland

If Phil Spector created the wall of sound,

Mogwai have created a f**king forcefield.

Last nights Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom show to celebrate 20-years of music was sonically sensational, fierce, beautiful, brutal, jaw dropping, ear shattering and spine tinglingly amazing.

My friend and I were genuinely blown away by the majestic power and beauty created on the legendary Barrowland stage. Almost literally at one point during Mogwai Fear Satan in the encore as the band let things drop before absolutely exploding back into life.

I can only liken it to the bit in Back To The Future when Marty McFly plugs his guitar in and turns everything up, plays a chord and is blown across the room. It was utterly amazing.

As you can imagine; there was a lot of love in the room last night for a local band playing the second of two sold out nights to celebrate 20-years since their first release.

The band gave plenty back though; a 3 strong support bill (with The Vaselines on incredible rip roaring form) and a collection for the local foodbank said a lot about Mogwai's values as a band. They look after their friends, promote their influences and firmly believe in a more equal society with Braithwaite dedicating a song to everyone who had taken part in the anti austerity march in Glasgow the previous day.

The band eased us gently into a 2-hour trip with a light show that matched the music and mood superbly. The band coaxed gorgeous little sounds from their guitars at one moment before unleashing ferocious riffs at others, underpinned by bass grooves, the most amazing sounding drums and keys/synths at times.

Braithwaite was always quick to thank the crowd for coming, highlighting that he knew many had travelled extensively to be there.

New Paths to Helicon was stunning, Remurdered from Rave Tapes was incredible and the aforementioned Mogwai Fear Satan was mind blowing but in truth this was all one remarkable show.

Musically and visually, this was a night to remember.

Setlist; 21st June 2015

  1. Yes I Am A Long Way From Home
  2. Travel Is Dangerous
  3. Friend of the Night
  4. Christmas Steps
  5. You Don't Know Jesus
  6. New Paths to Helicon Pt 1
  7. Rano Pano
  8. Tracy
  9. Remurdered
  10. George Square Thatcher Death Party
  11. Mexican Grand Prix
  12. My Father, My King
  1. 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong
  2. Mogwai Fear Satan
  3. Glasgow Mega-Snake

Monday, 15 June 2015

You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'


You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' by Gladys Knight and the Pips

Phil Spector, Barry Man and Cynthia Weil are the genius songwriters behind the incredible song You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', a song that has been a hit across the world for a number of artists.

The original was recorded in 1964 and released by The Righteous Brothers back in 1965 with Spector working his wall of sound magic on production and Bill Medley's spine tingling lead vocals caused hearts to melt.

The original ran to almost 4-minutes in length - far from the norm back in 1964 when 3-minutes or less was the rule of thumb. Spector refused to cut it though and had fake labels made with the track length showing as 3:05 rather than 3:45.

The song allegedly had more TV and radio plays in the 20th Century in the USA than any other song. Top Gun in the 1980's may well have been the first time I heard it.

Elvis, The Beach Boys, Cilla Black and Roberta Flack are among the many to have covered this true classic - you really can't go wrong with this song - unless you absolutely murder it.

I decided to blog about this song ahead of Motown legend Gladys Knight and the Pips playing in Glasgow later this month. I doubt they will play it but I really do hope so. It may well be my favourite cover version of all time.

Why is it my favourite?

Well for starters Gladys Knight and the Pips just rip it up and fly through it - the funky bass intro, that classic Motown beat, Gladys sounding sensational, the Pips backing vocals are sublime and just listen to that bridge into the chorus.

You're trying hard not to show it
But baby, oh baby I know it

The chorus the soars before Gladys leads into the second verse, the strings are glorious and Gladys is in absolutely sensational form over that 4/4 beat.

the album Gladys and the Pips recorded this cover for

Bill Medley takes his time in the The Righteous Brothers version, meanwhile Gladys has the words pouring out of her in true Motown style.

I  wanna say it one more time
We had a love, a love, a love, a love you don't find every day

Bill Medley sounds sad and mournful, Gladys Knight sounds angry, upset and ready to fight for her love as she almost screams at the end;

Bring back that loving' feelin'

You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' is a sensational song and this is a stunning performance of it - just so full of soulful emotion.

This may well result in a new feature - Cover Version of the Month.

For the time being - this is my favourite cover. Click on the link below to enjoy.

Monday, 8 June 2015

TFI Friday 2015

TFI Friday is back on our screens this Friday, 12th June 2015, Channel 4 at 9pm.

The iconic 90's Friday night show hosted by Chris Evans is returning to our screens, 15-years after it finished, 19-years since it started - they made a mistake as they thought it was the 20th anniversary; classic TFI!

TFI Friday was synonymous with the Britpop era with Evans the magical conductor, backed by a brilliant writing team including Danny Baker and Evans trusty sidekick and pub-trickster Will MacDonald.

It was slightly risky viewing for 6pm and it was the perfect way to kick-start the weekend with Evans playing host to an hour of the best music around mixed with informal yet informative interviews and some wacky sketches.

The Charlatans - North Country Boy

Evans played out his fantasies in a studio with its own bar - his favourite bands, girls he fancied stopped by and snogged on the show (Kylie and Geri), Paul McCartney and David Bowie dropped by, with Macca leaving in style in a Bond-esque speedboat up the Thames, Shaun Ryder famously swore a few times with his interview with Chris and the Patrick Cox shoes being absolutely priceless TV.

The show imploded/exploded in spectacular fashion, the team and Evans simply couldn't keep up the pace burning out in spectacular fashion and being allowed to conduct naked Friday walks through the studio.

Geri and Kylie indulge Evans with some arm wrestling before snogging! Perfect Friday TV!
Patrick makes good f**king shoes man

Evans bounced back in equally spectacular fashion - buying and selling Virgin Radio, woo-ing and marrying Billie Piper, moving to LA, before returning to the UK and remarrying and revitalising his career on Radio 2 and the One Show.

What is TFI going to be like in 2015? It sounds kind of like 1995 all over again!

Mani from the Stone Roses is on - will he make an announcement about their new album and more shows? Liam Gallagher is on in a supergroup with Roger Daltrey, Zak Starkey and Ian Broudie, Blur are playing and Ocean Colour Scene will still be supplying the theme tune.

That suits me just fine. I'll take that over Alan Carr or Graham Norton any day of the week.

Timing was what was partly brilliant about TFI; it captured the heady days of Britpop. TFI was like your weekly Britpop News show and Evans was having the time of his life on national television. So were many of his guests!

Evans has two incredible autobiographies out that I would highly recommend; check the incredible true story about Richard Branson, John Cleese and Concorde revolving around the mayhem that was a TFI Friday writing party for starters!

The guy is a media genius, he can relate to people on the street and to rock and film stars with ease - allowing him to ask questions that no-one else would think of or be allowed to get away with.

It's not the mid-90's anymore, so TFI is on at 9pm. Perfect for the 90's generation as we can get the kids to bed and crack open a few beers....or is it a bottle of red these days?

I for one hope it leads to a few more shows.

Chris strips off to prepare for the return of TFI Friday 2015

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The SAY Award shortlist

The Scottish Album of the Year Award (the SAY Award) has been a welcome addition to the Scottish music and arts scene since its inception; highlighting the quality and diversity that our nations artists create year on year and provoking debate about what albums should make the shortlist and of course; who should win.

The ten albums on the shortlist are noted below; the fact that the likes of King Creoste with his critically acclaimed From Scotland With Love, Withered Hand with his brilliant New Gods and The Twilight Sad with their most acclaimed album of their career, haven't made the shortlist has already created heated debate amongst Scottish music fans.

Little known acts like Happy Meals are on there - I have really fallen for their album since wondering who the hell they were when they popped up on the long list.

Let's see who is on the shortlist - in no particular order;

Last years winners Young Fathers are shortlisted again with Dead. They won with a mini-album/mixtape last year that created a heated debate regardless of the quality. The band followed that up by winning the Mercury Music Prize and have been gathering incredible critical acclaim and a growing fanbase.

The band are fiercely independent, prolific and are developing a reputation for fierce live performances. Dead has already won the Mercury - can they do the double? They may well be back on the shortlist again in 2016 with their latest album White Men Are Black Men Too.

The Amazing Snakeheads Amphetamine Ballads sent them careering around the globe causing havoc with their energy and passion. They imploded in February this year to the dismay of many.

Will their sole release win them the SAY Award? It's a menacing album mixing all kinds of stuff - The Doors crossed with punk, rock n roll and jazz at times - as evidenced on Flatlining below.

I caught them at the Wickerman Festival last summer and they were sensational live. They wouldn't be my own personal choice but would be popular with many.

Kathryn Joseph is someone I can see winning the award. Appearing from nowhere with a beautiful Vic Galloway session and causing some Scottish bloggers to melt with her Bones You Have Thrown At Me And Blood I Have Spilled album. I have yet to hear a bad word about this album or her live performances.

Listen to the gorgeous The Bird to get an idea of the beautiful sounds and imagery she creates.

Happy Meals have already won a new fan in me. Their name caught y attention when the SAY Award longlist was announced and I was transfixed by the gorgeous and eclectic sounds they create on their Apero album. It is just so gorgeously different - think Stereolab crossed with Kraftwerk in the year 2025. 

I really hope to see them live in the near future. 

Belle and Sebastian have made the shortlist with Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance. I reviewed the album on release HERE 

It is a brave album; dealing with personal illness, incorporating disco influences, yet remaining distinctly Belles. As per the review, I think there are some incredible songs on the album. Stuart Murdoch is an exceptional songwriter and I certainly wouldn't be surprised if they won.

Paulo Nutini is on the shortlist with Caustic Love. Paulo is a huge artist with worldwide appeal and this album has won him new fans, including those who perhaps poured scorn on him and his music in the past.

I haven't heard the full album however a couple of my best friends have been won over by it. Performances and songs like Iron Sky below highlight why he may become the most mainstream artist to win the SAY Award to date.

Honeyblood are a band that have worked exceptionally hard over the last year to promote their eponymous album that was released on Fat Cat, a label that has taken Scottish acts to their hearts over the years.

Honeyblood (the band and album) is very old school indie guitar music - so no surprise that I quite like it. Humour, warm guitars and good hooks are evident throughout. That said, I'd be surprised if they win and have done well to get to the shortlist.

Paws are another act on the Fat Cat Records label and their album Youth Culture Forever has understandably found favour in America where they have toured extensively. The slacker/grunge guitar sound can be exceptionally catchy at times but it isn't without depth and there is so much more to them as evidenced on their near 12-minute epic War Cry which has echoes of Nirvana, quiet verses then truly exploding into life.

SLAM are veterans of the Glasgow music scene, so in that sense it is good to see them on the shortlist with their Reverse Proceed album. It must be around 10-years since I have seen or heard SLAM in action, however I am reliably informed that they are still leading their field.

Judge for yourself with this continuous mix of the album;

Mogwai's Rave Tapes didn't make the shortlist but Rock Action label mates Errors have made it with Lease Of Life. Pardon the pun but they seem to have had a new lease of life - I was surprised when I caught them live in Glasgow Green for the Commonwealth Games last summer. They put on an incredible show to match their sonic soundscapes.

Errors have a real chance of winning for me. They seem to be progressing as a band, unafraid to explore and experiment, willing to bring friends (Cecilia Stamp on guest vocals) into their inner circle and gathering some fantastic reviews.

Check Through The Knowledge Of Those Who Observe Us for evidence of the expansive, melodic and experimental sound that Errors are capable of creating. The songs were created on the Isle of Jura and this epic 13-minute closer is a song with plenty of dreamy space, not in a rush, building gloriously.

So there you go - my top 3 in no particular order would be Happy Meals, Errors and Kathryn Joseph. My outsiders would be Honeyblood and Paws. But technically each artist has a 10/1 chance of winning!

The SAY award ceremony is at the ABC in Glasgow on the evening of 17th June.