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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 24th October 2014 at 2:00 pm
Scotland is a beautiful, unique place. So it makes total sense that everyone I know from there is also beautiful (and if the person is male, chances are he has a beautiful beard) and makes unique music or is involved in promoting music made by such musicians, such as . I feel quite lucky I’ve had the chance to visit multiple times now, and every time there are more new and exciting things I encounter that make me fall in love with Scotland that much harder. (And no, to be clear, Visit Scotland is *not* paying me to write this.)
That old phrase goes, “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. One of my planned gigs in Glasgow was cancelled, but a friend messaged me a couple days before I went up to Scotland that I could instead see some other acquaintances of mine play in Edinburgh instead. I always say things happen for a reason and I want to thank five people in particular for going out of their way of making this American feel welcome, it really meant a lot, cheers gents!
To be completely honest, I knew little of Fatherson going into this gig at the University of Edinburgh’s student union, Potterrow. One piece of trivia I did know: they call Glasgow home, which makes it all the more strange that on the Scottish leg of their UK tour this month, they didn’t actually play in Glasgow, calling instead only in Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen. However, considering I’ve just learned 2 days ago that they’ve been given a shout for SXSW 2015, the timing couldn’t be beat for me to see the Glaswegian band in action.
The main reason I’d taken the train 1 hour east (quite happily, I might add) was to see Model Aeroplanes. Regular readers of TGTF (and Generator, for that matter) will be aware that I think the world of these lads from Dundee, having met and seen them play at Liverpool Sound City this year. Despite their young age, they’re already churning out catchy guitar pop not unlike some Irish lads from Bangor called Two Door Cinema Club did a couple years ago. (And we all know what happened to them. BOOM.) Earlier this year, they released the single ‘Electricity’, which has gained them a whole new group of fans. In Edinburgh, they previewed for us upcoming single ‘Club Low’, which follows in their current vein of upbeat indie style. ‘Dive’ was another new song that got an airing, and I can’t wait until they have a full album to release, as I expect it to do massively well with well-written pop gems like this.
‘Crazy’, another previous single, is exactly the kind of thing that I would expect to blow up on Radio 1 and sounded fab, as frontman Rory Fleming-Stewart vocals bounced to match Kieran Smith drum beats, then oozed around the melody. Fleming-Stewart makes for a very charming frontman, cracking jokes between the tunes while also positively riling up the audience for what was to come. All throughout their set, I watched as Ben Buist took over his territory as Model Aeroplanes’ bassist, banging out his notes like a windmill-like, throw caution to the wind style. It was reminded why I love playing bass so much. Lead guitarist Grant Irvine looked serious all night, but I think the explanation was he was concentrating: they were supporting good friends of theirs, for what would turn out to be a huge night for the Glaswegians.
Fatherson, originally from Kilmarnock but now based in Glasgow, released their debut album ‘I Am an Island’ in April on indie A Modern Way. I can’t say I’ve even heard the album, and since it was so last-minute that I was going to show up to see them gig, I decided I wouldn’t prepare and be pleasantly surprised. I will preface my opinion of them by saying this isn’t my usual kind of music, but having seen them now and the frenzy they threw the punters in Edinburgh into with their guitar rock, I may have to rethink this. Their style is bombastic guitar rock with heart, the likes that haven’t really been seen all that much – or well for that matter – in America lately, so I expect them to do very well in America. With loads of bright flashing lights and loads of Scottish voices around me singing along to every word, it felt very strange to be witnessing a revolution of sorts, a new movement that I knew nothing about prior to this night.
The lyrics of LP opening track of ‘An Island’ may give some clues why this indie band already has very, very devoted fans in Scotland already. Singer/guitarist Ross Leighton has a booming voice (and much better than Scott Hutchison’s), and when he begins the song in a soft and measured tone, you’d have to be a robot to not feel the mourning from where these words came from. I can’t even begin to relate to the melancholic feelings that must exist in those Scots who voted yes in the referendum. In many ways, Scotland is an island: they have their own fierce identity, and damn anyone who would try and take it away from them. ‘I Like Not Knowing’, with riffs loud enough to knock you on your arse, would be a good example young indie bands should use as how to write a song with melodic guitars that builds up to a climax. Another set standout, previous single ‘Mine for Me’, starts up quickly and never loses momentum. It’s also a song that’s wonderful to sing along to.
Regardless of the referendum’s outcome, one thing I take away every time I visit Scotland is that you can never break the independent spirit of its people. I feel this very strongly every time I step into Showcasing Scotland at SXSW too. This show with Fatherson and Model Aeroplanes, with both bands seeming to be poised for the big time, was yet another sonic illustration that the Scottish music scene is alive, well and ready to rip you a new one. (Sorry! I asked around. I couldn’t come up with a more lady-like phrase to describe this.)
Hot on the heels of their first UK headline tour, Prides (who Mary just ran into last week in Edinburgh, ha!) have just announced another set of live dates for early next year. The new list includes shows in the band’s native Scotland, as well as their largest headline show to date at London’s Heaven. Tickets for the following shows go on sale today, the 24th of October, at 9 AM.
Catch all our previous coverage on those lovable Scots this way.
Thursday 5th February 2015 – Inverness Ironworks
Friday 6th February 2015 – Aberdeen Lemon Tree
Saturday 7th February 2015 – Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
Wednesday 11th February 2015– Brighton Haunt
Thursday 12th February 2015 – London Heaven
Friday 13th February 2015 – Nottingham Bodega
Saturday 14th February 2015 – Sheffield Leadmill
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 23rd October 2014 at 6:00 pm
Are you ready to dance and “got not room for hating”? Danish singer/songwriter Oh Land has a new video out for ‘Head Up High’, which has an incredibly dancey vibe. Not to mention a positive, uplifting message too. Err, generally. While it’s got a single girl (looking kind of like Channy Leanagh of Polica?) doing a dance in a room by herself in the same vein as Sia’s over-played single ‘Chandelier’, the end of the video see our protagonist destroying stuff. (I’m guessing this is meant to indicate the destruction of old, to be replaced by the new? I hope so…) Watch the promo below.
As the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo arrived in the UK, it was Example who went down a storm this past Tuesday at the Academy in Newcastle.
The support acts on the night came in the form of house DJ Benjamin Please, Delta Heavy (an electronic duo from London) and DJ Wire (Example’s touring DJ). For the most part, the acts played remixes of popular club hits, much to the delight of the onlookers, who were bellowing out the words and getting involved wherever they could.
With the crowd well and truly warmed up, Sheldrake (bass / synths), Kai Kai (guitar / keys) and Chris Maas (drums) took to the stage, closely followed by Example (real name Elliot Gleave), as they broke out into the chart-topping track ‘Stay Awake’. This was followed by the 2012 hit ‘Say Nothing’, which provided the first shiver-down-your-spine moment of the night. The big stadium chorus echoed throughout the venue, before the track made the transition into the Hardwell and Dannic remix.
The onlookers, most of whom were donning Example’s “Not A Salad” merchandise, maintained the energy and liveliness throughout ‘Watch the Sun Come Up’, ‘All the Wrong Places (Quintino remix)’, ‘Perfect Replacement’ and ‘Midnight Run (Flux Pavilion remix)’ before Example slowed proceedings down with ‘Playing in the Shadows’ and ‘Close Enemies (Jakob Liedholm remix)’. At this point, Example acknowledged Newcastle as one of his favourite cities to play, thanking the fans for their continued support throughout the years. This was followed by two tracks from his 2010 album, ‘Won’t Go Quietly’, as ‘Dirty Face’ seamlessly integrated into ‘Hooligans (Spor remix)’.
Audience interaction has always been one of Example’s strong points, and this gig was no different. The rapper-turned-singer regularly encouraged fans to participate by bouncing with the person next to them, clapping along and getting on other people’s shoulders. This interactivity spurred the lively crowd on, as they raved to the Ibiza-esque beats of ‘One More Day (Stay with Me)’ and ‘10 Million People (Kove remix)’, two singles from Example’s latest album, ‘Live Life Living’. That momentum continued through ‘Won’t Go Quietly (DC Breaks remix)’, ‘Take Me As I Am’ and ‘Kids Again’, before Example and the band temporarily left the stage.
After a short break, the encore turned things up a notch, opening with the rather aptly-named ‘We’ll Be Coming Back’. And there was no sign of the onlookers tiring, as the show continued with ‘Kickstarts’ and ‘Natural Disaster (Benny Benassi remix)’, before concluding with Example’s first number one hit ‘Changed the Way You Kiss Me (Chuckie remix)’.
Despite posting a video on Facebook prior to his tour to say that this set of dates would be his “last for a while” (due to the fact that his wife, Australian model, actress and tv personality Erin McNaught is currently pregnant), Example reassured fans that he would be returning, as he posed the question: “Who’s coming to my next tour?” After the energetic performance Example and his band gave, it’s safe to say that I, along with other attendees at the Academy in Newcastle that night, will be first in line for tickets.
Example‘s current massive UK tour rolls on through to the end of November; he plays at York Barbican tonight.
At a time when the term apathy is almost an outlawed word in Scotland, it’s ironic that an album by a band from north of Hadrian’s Wall inspires an overwhelmingly apathetic feeling within me. From the beginning of We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ third outing ‘Unravelling’ – barring sparse sections of the record – all I could think was what else I could be doing rather than listen to this record.
Maybe I’ll listen to the new We Are the Ocean song ‘ARK’. That’s been buzzing around my head nicely for a while. Or perhaps I’ll try and write a feature piece on that BBC Music cover creation of ‘God Only Knows’, to delve into the madness where they put Dave Grohl in the same vein as (definition of flash in the pan) Sam Smith. Or perhaps I’ll listen to that 30-second snippet of the new Foo Fighters album in the documentary promo.
For me, those thoughts gave the underlying impression of an album that failed to do what I demand from music. It neither grabbed me, nor did it take me on a journey, nor did it inspire any poignant emotion within me – barring apathy – if that can be classified as a discernable emotion. I didn’t feel it was truly experimental either; there was nothing which jumped out and grabbed me and made me think, nobody else is doing that at the moment.
The record truly just doesn’t get going until quarter of an hour in, despite flecks of promise at the end of LP opener ‘Safety in Numbers’. ‘Night Terror’ at least had enough about to wake me from the faux-slumber I drifted into at the top of the album. Perhaps I was expecting too much? But when the NME call their second album “Punchy, literate guitar music”, I expect a bit of punch before around 25 minutes into the blooming thing. ‘A Part of It’ starts off with a bit of bite and vigour, almost enough to nudge me awake from my stasis.
From the brilliantly angst-ridden breakout record of ‘These Four Walls’, We Were Promised Jetpacks showed a great promise in the brilliantly honest songwriting that underpinned the power of their debut outing. Despite their being an almost overwhelming sense of anxiety throughout ‘Unravelling’, this album just doesn’t hit the emotional highs and lows that predecessors have found the note on. As far as British post-rock is going, the group looked certain to push their way to the forefront, but this album despite having all the sheen of a brilliant production and some slick guitar work just feels a little underwhelming.
I just thought a band with the word ‘jetpacks’ in the title may be a little more exciting with maturity, but even after ‘Unravelling’, I still think we’re waiting for lift-off.
Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ third album ‘Unravelling’ is out now on FatCat Records. Read Mary’s review of previous single ‘I Keep It Composed’ here.
Following the release of their new EP ‘Exit, Pursued By A Bear’, To Kill a King have just announced a list of spring 2015 tour dates, including the band’s biggest headline show to date at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London.
As a preview, they’ve shared the video for a live performance of the EP’s lead track ‘Oh My Love’, which you can watch below the tour date listing. Tickets for the following shows will go on sale on Friday, the 24th of October, at 9 AM.
Friday 6th March 2015 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Saturday 7th March 2015 – Glasgow Stereo
Sunday 8th March 2015 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Monday 9th March 2015 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Wednesday 11th March 2015 – Bristol Thekla
Thursday 12th March 2015 – Brighton Haunt
Friday 13th March 2015 – Southampton Joiners
Saturday 14th March 2015 – London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
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