Bands to Watch #410: Cloth

By on Friday, 7th December 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo of Cloth by Erin NicCoinnich

I’ve just returned from a much needed holiday in Glasgow, which included a stop on the very last day of the most excellent Rip It Up exhibition in Edinburgh that celebrated the musicians from north of the border who have gone on to make a great big noise not just in Britain but well beyond Scotland’s physical borders. I have come back with my ears filled with new music and high hopes for the artists from Caledonia in 2019. One of these great new hopes are Cloth, a trio based in the cultural capital. What they’re doing and how they’re doing it represent for me how music-making in Glasgow is being transformed as of late.

The initial part of their story sounds similar enough to many a story in this business, no matter where in the UK. Twins Rachael and Paul Swinton attended Stow College in Glasgow with future bandmate and drummer Clare Gallacher. As children, the siblings Swinton were given Epiphone guitars at age 10 and soon found their way to picking out the chords to Deep Purple. While their ‘origin date’ on their record label’s Web site lists 2016 as their formation date, I’m sure there were attempts, false starts and noodlings around with ideas for a sound. For such a young band, they’ve had incredible luck to have already worked with the likes of Derek O’Neill (guitarist for King Creosote) and done recording at Paul Savage’s famed Chem19 studio, where so many of our favourite great Scottish records have been made.

Two Mondays ago, on the 26th of November (my birthday, no less), they were in session with Vic Galloway as the BBC Radio Scotland Introducing band of the moment. Knowing their primary musical touchstones – Cocteau Twins, Baltimore’s Beach House and the xx – handily explains their minimalist dream pop sound. Live, both Rachael and Paul play guitar; the noticeable lack of a bass guitar onstage isn’t apparent when listening to them on recording. ‘Old Bear’, their newest single that dropped last Friday, features Rachael Swinton’s ethereal lead vocal accompanied by a satisfyingly syncopated rhythmic backing that you can easily bop your head to. My vote for their best song so far is ‘Tripp’, its overall effect managing to burn a sultry figure even through the shadowy minimalism. This is considered, beautiful pop that just happens to be driven by guitars. Their sound is so far and away from the American and British slacker rock scenes I’ve never related to, sharing more kinship with the stories and emotions of folk but through a pop filter. You can watch all of the live clips from the session, including a cover of Tame Impala’s ‘Disciples’, through this link to the BBC Radio Scotland Web site.

How I understand it, they’re perfectionists like myself, not wanting to put out any substandard product, preferring to put in plenty of time and effort into making something they would be proud to stick their names on. To date, they have only released a handful of singles and through a record label with an ethos that seems it could only come from Glasgow. This past May, the band were snatched up by Last Night From Glasgow (LNFG), a DIY, non for profit record label “managed by volunteers who will neither draw a salary, nor take a share of the profits” that “provide[s] a viable alternative for both recording artists and consumers.” (You can read more about the label through this article at Creative Scotland.) Given the difficulty and shadiness of the music industry, a clearly defined path for artists to release music can only be a good thing, especially if fans can put money in to help them and get rewarded for their financial support.

Cloth are expected to be working on their debut album on LNFG next year, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing it when it’s released to the wild. Tonight, Friday, the 7th of December, they will perform as the primary support act to fellow Scot C Duncan at Glasgow Mono.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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