Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Dinosaur Jr at the Art School

Last night Dinosaur Jr played their second sold out night at the Glasgow School of Art and blasted away everyone's winter blues (minus 8 outside) with an array of warm guitars.

It was my first time seeing Dinosaur Jr, despite being into the band for a couple of decades and going through a phase of collecting their 7-inch singles. I was looking forward to seeing J Mascis shredding his guitar and blasting out songs from their long history. They didn't disappoint.

Everyone was wrapped up for the cold weather outside, so it was a little bit disappointing that the Art School didn't have a cloakroom open. So everyone was roasting inside.

Spinning Coin were supporting and they charmed the crowd, generating a good response from their mix of melodic songs (Sean Armstrong) and powerful (Jack Mellin). They've had a great year with a string of headline show, some fantastic support slots and the November release of their debut album Permo BLOG HERE

My brother and I departed for the downstairs bar and bumped into old school friend Grant Mitchell and his friend Mark Richie. Grant is an incredibly passionate record collector and had been to Lou Barlow's Nice n Sleazy matinee show the afternoon before, as well as Dinosaur Jr the night before. He told us we were in for a treat.

The Art School is a cracking venue, although the positioning of the sounddesk creates a bit of a bottleneck down either side. We skipped down the right hand side to the front and thankfully found we could dump our jackets by the stage.

Dinosaur Jr came on, Lou Barlow looked hyper, J Mascis looked relaxed/stoned/unbothered by the fanfare that greeted them. Grant made us laugh with his story that the crowd sang 'happy birthday' to him the previous night and he never even acknowledged it!

Mascis' guitar playing was a joy to watch, he just makes it look easy - zipping about his frets and creating joyful riffs and melodies.

Barlow was the star of the night for me though; looking trim and cool, acting like Animal from The Muppets had leapt from his drum kit to discover the joy of playing bass. He jumped, rocked out, played way up the neck of the bass, thrashed around and generally made it look fun and super cool.

Dinosaur Jr were tight, at times assisted by a second drummer. The songs from last years Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not are among their very best, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that Feel The Pain, Start Choppin' and Freakscene weren't my favourites.

I remember getting guitar lessons as an 18-year old and asking for help figuring out how to play Start Choppin'. So it was great to watch J's fingers dance around his various guitars and work his pedals and whammy bar and it was hard to take my eyes of Lou Barlow who was just the embodiement of indie cool.

How cool to rock up in a city and play a couple of small shows at the Art School and also do a matinee show at Sleazys? Indie cool.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Albums of 2017

2017 was a kind of weird year musically for me. I didn't buy anywhere near as much music as I once did as Spotify got its hooks into me. That along with the fact that I'm just not in town (or near a record shop - sorry Monorail) so much these days.

That said, through Spotify I possibly listened to more music than ever. I discovered bands and albums new and old and in some cases this prompted me to also buy the vinyl.

A look through the 30 odd albums that have made an impression on me this year evidences a pretty eclectic selection; ranging from self-released and DIY indie labels in Scotland, through to long term faves like The Charlatans, Flaming Lips and BMX Bandits, with comebacks from Ride, LCD Sound system balanced with falling for bands like The Courtney's and then discovering albums by the likes of The National, Kelly Lee Owens and Michael Head towards the end of the year

I fell for The Courtney's during a Spotify browsing session armed with a couple of Arran Blondes. Their song with the title 90210 took my eye in some recommendations and I checked it out. It blew me away. I then discovered they had released their second album earlier in the year, checked that, fell for that too and also bought the vinyl.

Last year I said that any one of the top 5 in my end of year list could be my (favourite) album of the year. This year I'm not so sure what my favourite album is, I like a lot and have loved a lot at various points of the year.

A special mention must go to Mark W Georgsson who kicked off 2017 with his beautiful Faces and Places album. Knowing Mark as I do, I knew that this was a labour of love and everything about the album highlighted that love - from the songs, the playing and the production through to the artwork and sleeve notes. The fact I had the album for over a year in digital form made me appreciate it all the more when it finally came out on vinyl. Check it out HERE

I obviously have a special affinity to local label Last Night From Glasgow and the 6 albums the label has released through 2017 (one jointly with Scottish Fiction) have all given great pleasure. In addition to Mark, LNFG released;

  • Medicine Men's Into The Light LP and it is a real melting pot of influences with bubbling synths matched with guitars and beats, taking off on lengthy and trippy grooves. 
  • Stephen Solo worked his iPhone magic again with Pii 2, homemade psychedelia with raw soul throughout and also dashes of humour, intelligence and stark honesty. 
  • Sister John's Returned From Sea is exquisite, pretty perfect from start to finish.
  • Annie Booth's is remarkable for someone so young and hints at a great deal to come.
  • while Sun Rose's The Essential Luxury is rich in layers, beats, synths, melodies and harmonies.

The amount of quality (and diverse) music that the label has released since forming in March 2016 is quite breathtaking. It highlights the gap there was and the need for the label in Scotland. I've not been able to offer much time to the label this year which is a shame, but a growing number of people are involved in helping CEO/Chair Ian Smith with the running of the label and each release. There is much more to come in 2018.

Please take the time to check these fine artists out. You can stream them all on Spotify, download from iTunes or buy physical copies from www.lastnightfromglasgow.com

So without wishing to show any favouritism, I'll keep the LNFG artist above,  here are my 5 favourite albums from 2017 with the rest in no particular order listed below.

Top 5 from 2017

1. Adios Señor Pussycat - Michael Head and the Red Elastic
God damn it, I only discovered this album after Michael's Oran Mor show in October when loads of people I follow on Twitter went into overdrive regarding how good the show was and the album is. I agree - melodic stories, a great band, a singer in rich voice, a choice cover of Wild Mountain Thyme and an album that gets better with every listen. SPOTIFY LINK

2. How The West Was Won - Peter Perrett
I blogged about this incredible album in August and described it as the sound of chiming guitars, a tight rythm section and the sound of Perrett pouring his heart out. It is pure, soulful and true.

Catching Peter and his band at King Tut's made me appreciate it even more. A love letter to his long suffering wife, self help for himself - this is special. SPOTIFY LINK

3. The Courtney's II - The Courtney's
As above, the second LP from The Courtney's is direct guitar punk/new wave pop. There is a groove to some songs, others show humour, they all brim with excitement and energy. SPOTIFY LINK

4. Every Valley - Public Service Broadcasting
One of my favourite bands from recent years, they really know how to take the listener on a journey through the incredible sounds they create and their innovative use of samples; ranging from old BBC recordings, to NASA and to their recent album documenting Welsh Coal mining. The way they create music around the samples is extremely clever and I wonder how much the samples inspired the music, or if they had to search for samples to fit. SPOTIFY LINK

5. Erratic Cinematic - Gerry Cinnamon
What a year for Gerry! Heis rounding it off with 2 sold out nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and they are set to be pure celebrations of his honest, soulful storytelling songs. Keysies is one of my songs of the year. SPOTIFY LINK

Others albums I enjoyed

Sleep Well Beast - The National
This could easily have made my top 5. An album with real depth, an album clearly displaying real care and soul. I've never reached for The National before, but a number of friends urged me to check this album out. My only disappointment is that I didn't go and see them live.

New Energy - Four Tet
Stephen Pastel recommended that I check this album out. Recorded in a sparse home studio looking out a window, New Energy has a beautiful feel to the sounds and production. It sounds very fresh and natural despite its electronic origins.

Different Days - The Charlatans
The band that keep on keepin' on. Guest appearances from Marr, Weller, Rankin and more inspired The Charlatans to swiftly follow the incredible Modern Nature with another gem. Many journalists deemed this their best album since Tellin' Stories - but that is doing a massive dis-service (yet also highlighting the consistency of the band) to the aforementioned Modern NatureYou Cross My Path and the wonderful Us and Us Only. I reviewed the album in this BLOG highlighting a sense of freedom, confidence and fun.

Kelly Lee Owen - Kelly Lee Owen
I only discovered this album a couple of weeks ago on a train to London and enjoyed it so much that I listened to it twice on the way down and twice on the way back. A gorgeous album that really fitted with my sunny train ride to and from the big smoke. Trippy, laid back, dreamy and with stunning effected vocals throughout.

Oczy Mlody - Flaming Lips
The Lips produced one of the most memorable musical highlights of my year with their Barrowland Ballroom show that featured Wayne Coyne riding round the hallowed ballroom on a unicorn. Psychedelic with pulsing electro, fantasies, dreams, nightmares.... The Lips continue to push boundaries and imagination to the limit and beyond.

Antisocialites - Alvvays
Loud melodic guitars, a guest spot from Norman Blake and the sound of a band playing with confidence and fun. Alvvays are on the rise.

American Dream - LCD Soundsystem
Back, but they weren't away for long, James Murphy and co keep on keepin' on with songs about ageing, death and dreams accompanied by all kinds of grooves and beats

Weather Diaries - Ride
Ride returned with guitars set to stun and lots of talk of the sun.

Morningside - Fazerdaze
I discovered this album through a tweet by Gold Flake Paint; falling for the real charm in the guitars, production, vocals and lyrics.

Forever - BMX Bandits
I blogged about the Bandits recent number HERE and it is a gem of heart-breaking, heart-aching, warm and reflective pop.


Stellular - Rose Elinor Douglas
Kelvingroove - Fnuf and the Fairylights
Colours - Beck
Permo - Spinning Coin
Earl Gray - Girl Ray
Last Place - Granddaddy
Who Built The Moon? - Noel Gallagher
Another Summer of Love - GospelbeacH
Saved by Metal - Broken By Rock
Friday Night The Eagles Fly - The Bar Dogs
There Are No Saints - Siobhan Wilson
Waiting On A Song - Dan Auerbach

Monday, 4 December 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 17

Hello and welcome to the last additions to the Never Ending Mixtape for 2017. This fine list takes the total songs on the mixtape to a whopping 380!

We begin with 2 cracking tunes by Michael Head via Shack and The Pale Fountains, taking in Mancunians The Smiths and Buzzcocks, the brilliantly titled Young Lovers Go Pop!, a pile of tunes I discovered through an Andy Bell (Ride) DJ setlist including the impeccable La Ritournelle by Sebastian Tellier, we have legends like Hendrix, Glen Campbell, The Stones and Bowie, an ode to Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake by The Swedish Polar Bears, one of my most recent favourite bands in Public Service Broadcasting, two brilliant early Teenage Fanclub tracks and two songs by The Pooches from Glasgow.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or CLICK HERE.

Scroll to near the end for the latest additions or simply press shuffle and enjoy at random.

Thanks to those of you that either follow the playlist, have checked it out or taken the time to send messages of encouragement and thanks for turning you on to some great music. Greatly appreciated.

Beautiful - Shack
Jean's Not Happening - The Pale Fountains
Ask - The Smiths
Young Lovers Go Pop! - This Many Boyfriends
Ever Fallen In Love - Buzzcocks
Girl You Better Change - Sag Ware Fare
Norman Blake - Swedish Polarbears
Like An Old Time Movie - Scott Mckenzie
Where's The Playground Susie - Glen Campbell
He Called Me Baby - Candi Staton
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads
I Can't Kick This Feeling When It Hits - Moodyman
La ritournelle - Sebastian Tellier
We Love You - The Rolling Stones
Castles Made Of Sand - Jimi Hendrix
Straight At Yer Head - Lionrock
The Other Side - Public Service Broadcasting
Rebel Rebel - David Bowie
Changes - David Bowie
Critical Mass - Teenage Fanclub
Every Picture I Paint - Teenage Fanclub
Heart Attack - The Pooches
I'll Be Gone - The Pooches

Friday, 1 December 2017

Dance Around The Fake Fir Tree

Mark W Georgsson has bookended my year musically, releasing his beautiful debut album Faces and Places back in January, playing a memorable cosy Celtic Connections show in the basement of The Hug and Pint to launch in style. Check my blog on the album HERE 

And now in December he releases a funky, glam, soulful pop Spector-esque Christmas single in the shape of Dance (Around The Fake Fir Tree).

The flowing chorus is Springsteen-esque, backed by soaring strings, sleigh bells, church bells and stomping beats. The way it is repeated at the end brings a sense of euphoria to the song. Epic.

At the start it's quite Marc Bolan/Jesus and Mary Chain, funky and poppy, fun and frisky and then leading into that sky scraping chorus.

So take my hand
And let's go dance
Around the bare fir tree
I wanna hold you tight
Every Christmas night
Like we were young and care free

The post second chorus breakdown and subsequent build up is a little spine tingling and then Georgsson and friends let rip with the chorus again and again.

Recorded in Iceland, where the beautiful artwork was photographed, this is a gem.

Mark W Georgsson and friends play a Christmas show at The Hug and Pint on Dec 8th.

The digital single is out today, available on iTunes, Spotify and all the usual outlets. Check the lyric video below.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Baker Street

Cover version of the month #31

The Foo Fighters cover Baker Street

A couple of months ago I tweeted my usual cover of the month blog and I asked if anyone would like to contribute to the series. Dedé Arneaux messaged me to say that he would like to send something in and I was rather surprised to learn that it was a blog on The Foo Fighters covering the sax classic Baker Street! My first thought was, really?! And then, I must check this out!

And that is exactly the kind of reaction that I love to get from cover versions at times. Curiosity and surprise.

So they really did cover it.

Dedé Arneaux 

Written in '77. Gerry Rafferty's break up and move-on song when Stealers Wheel split. It's smooth, starting with flute, congas, cymbal rolls and a hint of fretless bass before the swooping sax solo chorus glides in supported by solid piano stabs high in the mix. There's a distinct air of swing about it. Sexy and at home on a Roxy Music album. Warm strings enter as we move from the bass and congas in the verse to the bridge. "You used to think that it was so easy" continues the horizontal, feet-up, hands behind the head feel before the chorus returns. If it's an advert ... it's for yoghurt.

In '92 Undercover record it, there's a longer Mickey Modelle clubland version and 20 years later and 20 years ago Baker Street appears as the final track on a special edition of Foo Fighters' '
The Colour and the Shape. It's the antithesis of smooth, the soundtrack for Hurricane Ophelia.

A single snare crack wakes dual rhythm guitars. Bludgeon riffola - overdriven to the point of darkness on the edge of down and out badness, 180 degree drum fills drive it, before the lead guitar comes crashing in playing the sax melody we all love. It's brutal and bionic.

Released into the verse, spoken word vocal sits atop a picked guitar line and another lightly strummed. Neither acoustic and teased along by bass drum and rim shot.

A leap from 2nd gear to 4th for the bridge, heavy duty drums on the one and returning distorted double rhythm guitars provide a contrast to the laid back voice and whooping and sliding bass that hark to the original. Grab your sixteenth note seat belt before kicking into top with the guitar solo chorus shadowed by dive bomb slides that add a whole lotta love and a sonic whiplash.

Foo Fighters replace give up the booze and the one night stands with give up the crack. Kinda sums up the transformation. The song climaxes with 2 mins plus of instrumental guitar and drum  riffery with a solo that's true to the original, doused in lighter fuel and alight.

Previous covers of the month

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Permo by Spinning Coin

If I was 20 odd years younger I would probably be a little jealous of Spinning Coin; releasing on Stephen Pastel's Geographic label with support from Domino, recording with Edwyn Collins and touring with Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr... the stuff of a young indie guitar fans fantasies.

And as I approach 42 it still is a kind of fantasy of mine to put together an indie guitar band and have loads of fun. I can't afford the mid-life crisis sports car, so that might happen!

It is a reality for Spinning Coin, they are playing great shows, they have recorded a great indie guitar album that is at times; fragile, raw, rough n ready and full of harmonies, humour and playfulness.

Photo by Stuart McIntosh

Spinning Coin have released a number of singles from the album over the last couple of years; drip feeding their sound on to record tables and into hearts.

Only 5-songs (one by a mere 2 seconds) across the 14 on Permo break the 3-minute barrier. They don't mess about with the two songwriters Sean Armstrong and Jack Mellin displaying their talent in many ways.

Fuzzy melodic guitars and beautiful strained vocals usher in Armstrong's Raining On Hope Street, while there is pace, power and more frantic riffs to Mellin's Tin.

We then have two songs referencing money in the title; Money For Breakfast and Money Is A Drug. The first has some beautiful lyrics and has a great melancholic vibe to it, a kind of stoned groove.

So soothing, it's so soothing when the sunlight reaches your bed

Armstrong's fragile and melodic tunes with his storytelling lyrics that somehow fit into a song are pretty special. It almost kind of should't work, but it really does as evidenced on Metronome River.

Floating With You is a gorgeous tune, possibly my favourite from the album. Did I mention stoned groove earlier on? Well this is the sound of someone in a special place, just happy, gloriously so.

Everything you say just gets me higher

I'm happy just floating with you

Sides punky pop urgency has delightfully simple lyrics that we can all relate to and a brilliant guitar break/riff halfway through that propels the song towards a great conclusion with Mellin and Armstrong's voices combining deliciously.

Telling lies all the time
Telling lies is a waste of time

I've blogged about Sleepless before and it is another fave; melodic, fragile, heartfelt and soulful with lovely chiming guitars.

There is definitely an element of Collins and Goddard to some of Mellin's songs in his style, phrasing, lyrics and delivery. Powerful is an example of the raw yet melodic punk pop racket he demonstrates throughout the album.

These words just can't express
Just how much I have been blessed

Starry Eyes has an unexpected political tone, while Running With The World is another of my favourites before the album closes with the gorgeous I Feel The Need To Be An Actor.

Well I sure love the rain
I love the way it defeats me
I try to explain
But I don't have the brains to

You can order the vinyl from Monorail's website with a signed print, or pop into the store.

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.



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.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Wedding DJ

6-years ago my friend Jillian asked me to DJ at her wedding. I was delighted to accept. The wedding was to be held in the beautiful House for an Art Lover in Glasgow, a venue I was familiar with as it had also been the setting for my friends Phil and Mary's wedding.

Jillian and Chris' wedding was a real blur. There was a free bar and it was draft Stella. I was sharing DJ duties with a guy from France called Tony. French Tony - as there was also a Scottish Tony. He cleared the dance floor several times so the decks became mine and I played Motown, 60's beat groups, Bowie, Roxy Music and then fine pop including Madonna, Kylie, S-Express and Deee-lite. All music I loved.

Jillian and Chris also introduced me to Ruby Andrews beautiful Just Loving You as that was their first dance. What a choice! It is a cracker and I'd later be interviewed on 6music by Craig Charles on his Funk and Soul show and he marvelled at the song - he hadn't heard it before.

I must have made an impression on Jillian's sister Jules as 2-months ago she got in contact to ask if I would DJ at her wedding.

We had a couple of chats and it was clear that other than the first dance (Andy Williams - You're Just To Good To Be True), Jules and Duncan completely trusted me to get people dancing and ensure everyone had a good time. No pressure!

1st dance

I love a good wedding reception. I trusted my friend Phil to DJ at my own wedding reception, but I also met with him several times to discuss 'must plays'!

For this reception I decided against vinyl. It was to be Spotify and/or iTunes. I discovered a great little APP called DJJAY2 for only £4.99 that allows you to DJ electronically on an iPad using Spotify.  You can mix, there are effects and if you have WIFI then you have quite a catalogue at your disposal!

I have always loved dj-ing with vinyl. You can only play what you have and if you're playing a 3-minute Motown special then you have extremely limited time to select and choose your next record and get it all queued up. I have always liked the excitement of choosing one, only to get it all queued up and then change my mind and fight against time to get another one chosen and ready.

But common sense prevailed on this occasion. I decided to go digital and it definitely helped on the night as in the end I took some requests for the Gay Gordons and Dashing White Sergeant (both of which were amazing) and also ended up playing songs I hadn't included on my 200+ Spotify playlist that I had created for the evening. Why Does It Always Rain On Me by Travis was also requested as it is the family anthem and that became clear when I played it!

Other than those requests, everything I played was entirely my choice. I fretted over playing Toploader (euuugghhh) but it packed the dancefloor. I also cleared the dance floor a couple of times! It was packed for The Fratellis Chelsea Dagger so I thought I'd keep it upbeat with Rocks by Primal Scream, but people vanished! Maybe they were just a little tired cause it had been pretty busy from the off!

The Proclaimers and Runrig were predictable but euphoric Scottish highs. Sunshine On Leith towards the end of the night was absolutely beautiful. Deacon Blue's Dignity sounded incredible.

Dancing and singing

The benefit of WIFI and DJ-ing electronically meant that I stuck Tony Christie, Black Lace (yeah i played them after people started a conga during Tony Christie), the Village People, the O'Jays and Journey off the cuff - I wondered why I hadn't thought of them beforehand! Total party tunes, really euphoric sing-a-longs and cheesey party anthems!

It was a great night in the stunning Ardoch House near Loch Lomond. There were many highlights; seeing people going crazy to Yazz, hugging and singing at top voice to Hey Jude, or being mesmerised by the beauty of Sunshine On Leith was incredible. And those from England who had never attended a Scottish wedding before were blown away by Runrig's Loch Lomond and the traditional circular pogo. I then followed that up with a cheeky encore of Whitney's classic I Wanna Dance With Somebody to end the night.

The last 2 songs of the night

The DJAY2 APP keeps a list of the songs played in each set that you can then transfer to a Spotify playlist. So check that below and there is also a full setlist. NOTE - for some reason it doesn't transfer to Spotify in order played!

It was great fun and it has totally got me in the mood for organising a night of playing records with friends and having a party.

Pre evening reception tunes
Somewhere In My Heart - Aztec Camera
Sparky's Dream - Teenage Fanclub
Baby I Need Your Loving - Four Tops
Good Vibrations - Beach Boys

Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Andy Williams
Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
For Once In My Life - Stevie Wonder
Happy - Pharrell Williams
Twist and Shout - The Beatles
Love Is In The Air - John Paul Young
Can't Stop The Feeling - Justin Timberlake
Dancing On The Ceiling - Lionel Ritchie
Human - The Killers
Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
Rocks - Primal Scream
Do Your Thing - Basement Jaxx
Everybody Dance - Chic
Into The Groove - Madonna
Gay Gordons - Jimmy Stand (played twice!)
I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) - The Proclaimers
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
Jump - Van Halen
Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles
I'm A Believer - The Monkees
Just Loving You - Ruby Andrews
Why Does It Always Rain On Me - Travis
Dashing White Sergeant - Jimmy Shand
You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon
Valerie - Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson
Dancing Queen - ABBA
Atomic - Blondie
The Only Way Is Up - Jazz
You Got The Love - The Source and Candi Staton
Groove Is In The Heart - Deee-lite
Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode
Common People - Pulp
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
Don't Leave Me This Way - Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes
Stop! In The Name Of Love - The Supremes
Get Off Of My Cloud - The Rolling Stones
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Young Hearts Run Free - Candi Staton
Dancing In The Moonlight - Toploader
Let's Dance - David Bowie
More Than A Woman - Bee Gees
Get Lucky - Daft Punk
She's Electric - Oasis
Hey Jude - The Beatles
I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) - The Proclaimers
(Is This Way To) Amarillo - Tony Christie
Do The Conga - Black Lace
YMCA - Village People
Love Train - The O'Jays
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
Dignity - Deacon Blue
Sunshine On Leith - The Proclaimers
Loch Lomond (live) - Runrig
I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Whitney Houston