Sunday, 24 September 2017

Sleepless by Spinning Coin

I've mentioned Spinning Coin in a number of blogs over the last couple of years..Their short (most are under 3-minutes) melodic and heartfelt guitar tunes with fragile and soulful harmonies have won my heart.

Permo, their debut album, is set for release on 10th November on The Pastels Geographic label and I am really looking forward to it. The band recorded at Edwyn Collins Helmsdale studio in the far North of Scotland and closer to home at Green Door Studio in Glasgow. You can pre-order the rather gorgeous looking vinyl HERE
To keep the momentum going Spinning Coin have released a video for the song Sleepless, with footage taken on their European tour in June.

Chiming guitars and soulful harmonies flow and combine effortlessly. The five-piece; Cal Donnelly, Chrish White, Jack Melin, Sean Armstrong and Rachel Taylor, just gel. Like all good bands do. They make it sound fun and easy. Enjoy the video below and check the string of live dates planned - dates with Girl Ray, The Pastels and Dinosaur Jr and their album launch at Mono on 17th November.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Olive Grove Records catch up

There are many great things about being a music lover. Discovering great music is one thing, sharing is another, meeting inspiring people through a shared love, one more.

Lloyd Meredith of Olive Grove Records is someone who discovers, shares and inspires. His enthusiasm is infectious, his energy is enviable.

I met Lloyd when I started blogging and his Peenko blog was one I always read and enjoyed. We met through gigs, blogs and a shared love of music and I'll back up what most people will say - Lloyd is hands down one of the most lovely, loyal and hard working people you will ever meet.

We have both blogged, put on shows and ultimately co-founded DIY record labels. We each also have 2 kids each - so our paths are quite similar in many ways!

Ahead of Olive Grove's Daylight Sessions (FREE ENTRY) at the lovely St Luke's in Glasgow, (FREE ENTRY and CHILD FRIENDLY!) I thought I'd ping Lloyd an email for a little catch up.

1. How long has Olive Grove Records been going for now (I've lost track)?

The label is now in its seventh year, but to be honest it feels like I've been doing this a lot longer - in a good way I should add.

2. Tough question - where do you find the time and energy?

I'm not going to lie, it can be pretty exhausting running the label these days. When the label first started my daughter had just been born a couple of months prior, so initially it was pretty tough. Now I have two kids, it's utterly knackering, so most of the time I'm running on empty, but then I can't imagine not having the label so I guess that's what keeps me going. That and a very understanding wife.

3. What have been the biggest lessons you have learned?

Not to take things personally, although that's easier said than done. If one of my bands gets a poor review or their album doesn't get featured by a site or magazine that you'd expected, it can be pretty hard to take. I am very protective of my artists, if I work with them then it's because I think the world of them, so when someone else doesn't share that enthusiasm it can be hard to take. Learning to realise that not everyone will love everything I release was a pretty tough lesson in life, but nowadays I tried to be more thick skinned and not take things personally.

The other lesson would probably be around not getting too hung up on other label envy. I often find myself seeding other labels getting features or radio plays that I'd love to get, but rather than being bitter I have come to recognise that the Scottish music scene has some of the most supportive folk I know. We are all working to support the bands we love, so it's better to look at these things in a positive manner. Plus I can also help motivate you more to do more to support your own artists.

State Broadcasters - Break My Fall

4. Not wanting to encourage favouritism - but what have been your top 5 Olive Grove moments from through the years?

Top 5?! Jeezo, this almost feels like you're asking who my favourite child is...
Top of the list has to be the Olive Grove showcase that we did at Oran More as part of Celtic Connections. Having all of my artists on the one bill at a sold out show really can't be beaten. Finishing the night drunkenly dancing on stage with Woodenbox will live with me until my dying day.

I'm not sure if this counts as a moment, but I'm going to shoe horn it in here anyway. I love the fact that I've brought so many different musicians together. Be it Pete from the State Broadcasters recording Randolph's Leap, then eventually joining the band, or Alex and Cat from Skinny Dipper playing on the last Woodenbox album, Foreign Organ. I'd always wanted the label to feel like a musical family, which I guess it kind of does now.

Third on the list, meeting Jon from Smallfish Recordings. He's been a total god send and massively helped with the label. He does a lot of my mixing and mastering, I genuinely don't know what I'd do without him. He's done stuff for Randolph's Leap, Woodenbox, Jo Mango, Call To Mind, the State Broadcasters, The Son(s), the Royal Male and he's just been working on Jared Celosse's stuff too. If you're ever looking for someone to help mix or master your tracks, then I would thoroughly recommend you drop him a line. Not only is he great at what he does, but he's an awesome human being to boot.

Fourth, again it's not a moment, but it's something which is massively important to me, which is artwork. I've always wanted by artwork to reflect the beauty of the music that I release, which I think I've done. Kris Ferguson who has done stuff for me, including Randolph's Leap, Woodenbox and Jo Mango, feels like Olive Grove's answer to Vaughan Oliver. 

Lastly, I guess it would be just meeting so many amazing people, who were brave/crazy enough to trust me with their music. I've made a lot of great people who are now some of my greatest friends.

5. And you're planning for the future - tell us about your new signings.

I am indeed, it's been a while since I added anyone new to the Olive Grove family, but in the next few months I'll be releasing music with two relatively unknown acts, Jared Celosse and Pocket Knife.

Both artists are only just starting to find their own feet, Jared is a 21 year old singer songwriter, who has been aptly described as a modern day Nick Drake. Pocket Knife are a Scottish and French duo, who write incredibly catchy lo-fi pop songs. 

Both Jared and Pocket Knife are playing at the Olive Grove showcase gig at St Luke's on Sunday 1st October, alongside Grover veterans Randolph's Leap and the State Broadcasters. So if you fancy coming down and checking them out for free, then that's your best bet.

Jared Celosse

6. How do you think the Scottish music scene, I guess with particular reference to the DIY scene, has changed during your time with Olive Grove? Is it meeting modern day challenges?

Man that's a tough question, so much has changed since the since the label started. I think the most noticeable thing for me is the reduction in the number of Scottish music blogs. Plus there doesn't seem to be as many DIY labels kicking about. Then again I don't really have my finger on the pulse anymore, so there's probably loads going on that I just don't know about.

I think the best challenge these days is actually selling CDs and records, folk just don't seem as interested in buying CDs anymore. Plus records are so damn expensive to manufacture, that it can be really tough to break even, nevermind making a profit.

Without blowing too much smoke up your backside, I'm a massive fan of what's going on with Last Night From Glasgow, it's such a simple, yet utterly brilliant business model for running a record label. The passion that they have for what they do is really infectious!

7. And lastly, what can we expect from your show at St Lukes?

Four great acts and a big hug from a sweaty bearded man.

Free show and free hugs

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Twist and Shout

Cover version of the month #29
The Beatles cover The Isley Brothers

The Beatles version of Twist and Shout closes their debut album Please Please Me in an absolutely show stopping way. Nothing could follow it.

Any fellow fans of The Beatles (that haven't already) should track down a copy of Ian MacDonald's epic Revolution In The Head that digs into the recording of each Beatles song in chronological order.

MacDonald's research and findings are staggering - to read through The Beatles catalogue and learn about their experimentation, mistakes and learnings is absolutely fascinating. And I particularly enjoyed reading about the recording of The Beatles debut Please Please Me that was recorded from start to finish on 11th February 1963.

By the time they reached Twist and Shout, Lennon knew he only had one shot at producing the raw, rasping, soulful vocal that he had brought to the song through his time playing in clubs from Liverpool to Hamburg.

The energy The Beatles pour into the song is outrageous. Lennon pushes his voice to the limits from the off, listen to him going for it and stretching it to breaking point.

Come on, come on, come on, come on baby now
Come on and work it all out
Well work it all oooouuuuttt

The Beatles push it even further, the song breaks down at 1 minute 9 seconds and then the band egg each other on to scream, the beat rises with their voices and they go back into the song.

By the time they get to 2 minutes and 7 seconds they are pushing themselves to the brink, foot stomping their way through 3 repeated lines that must have sounded like the most exciting and sexy music ever back in 1963 - it still stands up today.

Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)

The band then scream to conclusion - song done, album done, all in one day - exhausted, elated.

The band attempted a second take but Lennon's voice was shot, he had nothing left to give and it was abandoned. Take 1 is the version on Please Please Me, the only version.

I love the version from The Royal Variety Performance in November 1963 where Lennon introduces the song by asking will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands and the rest of you if you just rattle your jewellery. Rumours are that he wanted to say rattle your f**king jewellery.

Check this outrageous version from Melbourne in 1964, no-one was telling singers to look after their voices in those days!

Yet again when it comes to cover version of the month I learn that what I deemed to be the original is not in fact the original. I thought the original version was by The Isley Brothers, it was certainly the version The Beatles covered - injecting pace and rock n roll into The Isley Brothers song through years of playing in clubs.

The song was written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (later credited as Bert Russell) and recorded by a band called The Top Notes with a certain young Phil Spector (pre Wall of Sound) producing. It flopped and it does sound pretty lame and terrible if you take the time to check it out HERE.

The Isley Brothers took it and made it into a hit. And what a hit - it really is a brilliant rock n roll/soul song to dance and shout to. Aptly named! Check it HERE.

And I couldn't write a blog without including the 'version' that introduced me to the song. Matthew Broderick miming to The Beatles on a carnival float in the 80's classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Previous covers of the month

Friday, 15 September 2017

Returned From Sea

Amanda, Heather, Sophie and Jonathan

At the age of 41 I still have dreams about being in a band. This band tends to be a 4-piece - 2 guitars, bass and drums and be a kind of indie guitar pop band like The Lemonheads or Teenage Fanclub, with the odd 11-minute psychedelic wig out or detour into electronica.

But last night I watched Sister John play the first of 2 sold out shows at The Hug and Pint to celebrate the release of their stunning debut album Returned From Sea and wished I could be in a band like theirs.

A band that can play slow, with tender care, pull off 4 part harmonies with ease; a band that can jam, choose super cool covers by having super cool taste, swap instruments, sound like angels and write truly beautiful songs.

So yeah, I'm a fan and The Hug and Pint show was superb.

Returned From Sea 
Stunning artwork by Brian Sweeney

Returned From Sea is warm, lush, sublime, beautiful and wonderful. As I type I'm listening to Rider On The Hill when the band just play on with gorgeous oooh oooh oooh oooh's sounding heavenly.

Opener Thinner Air will pull you in in a heartbeat, you're immediately in Sister John's world. It feels kind of familiar but new, you'll definitely like it. Single Sweetest Moment flows sweetly and freely, sounding impossibly easy and pure.

Singer and songwriter Amanda McKeown has an incredible voice that she uses wisely - whispering, soaring, using all her power at times, taking it right back at others.

How good are they? The first time I heard Backstreet Swimmers I wondered who they were covering. I felt the same with Try To Be Good. Was it an old Neil Young or Gram Parson song?

No, both were written by Amanda and with help from her exceptionally talented band - Jonathan Lilley on guitars, keys, bass, harmonica, percussion and backing vocals; Heather Phillips on violin and backing vocals and Sophie Pragnell on viola, drums, percussion and backing vocals - they are both gems.

I see you everyday and I think of the sun
If there's a simple thing I can do it now
And when I write it down
I can try to be good

Returned From Sea is an album with real depth. Dive in, stay in, the water is warm and soothing.

The inside gatefold sleeve

See You Again is almost like a lullaby, so tender, so beautiful, so simple - but yet so clever. The slide guitar is spine tinglingly slow and beautiful.

One of my live favourites from The Hug and Pint was Sister John's Dream, it was quite Velvets-y. Swallowed The Moon was also a live highlight with Amanda introducing the song by asking everyone to think of someone that has pulled them through at some point. Amanda pours her heart and soul on to vinyl; you can hear it and feel it.

This is such a strong album; 12-songs that are all really beautiful. Amanda McKeown is a special talent - as are her band.

Listen to the violin and viola sound like they are weeping on Friends and then listen to Amanda's heartbreaking fragile voice and then feel a tingle down your spine - wow! Very special.

We're the same
We chose the sun
But saw the rain

Gone is another stunner. He Came Down is just beautiful. It's hard to capture just how special this album is. So listen yourself.

Search on Spotify to stream immediately but do yourself a favour and order the gatefold vinyl from the Last Night From Glasgow website.

Sister John will be playing more shows; those announced are; 04/11 Braemar Gallery, Braemar and 19/11 Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

There Are No Saints

I first listened to Siobhan Wilson's There Are No Saints the week after its July release. It was a gorgeous sunny day, I was out at my Mum's in Carluke and I downloaded the album so I could listen to it on the drive home.

The windows were down and the sun was beaming down, shades were on. In truth, I'd normally choose something far more upbeat than this beauty of an album to drive to. But the music captivated me. It stayed on and I even took a detour home so I could listen to it all.

A month or two on and I am listening to the album on headphones, marvelling at Siobhan Wilson's voice, the arrangements and most of all the feel of the album. It is gorgeous.

Wilson is classically trained and on songs like Disaster and Grace when she plays piano, backed by strings, she sounds like a dream - really beautiful, what a voice.

The production, by Chris McCrory of Catholic Action, is just perfect. Wilson and McCrory allow the songs space to breath. Whether backed by fuzzy electric guitar, piano or strings, Siobhan Wilson sounds heavenly. Just listen to Whatever Helps.

You're stuck in the break of a wave
You're haunted by a line from a song

Siobhan divides her time between Scotland and Paris and if anything her voice sounds even more sexy and dreamy when she sings in French. J'attendrai is exquisite, sounding like it could be from a French Disney film - gorgeous melodies. Paris Est Blanche is just magical.

Make You Mine is jaw dropping, heart stopping, spine tingling gorgeousness. Wow! Even managing an AC/DC reference!

Closer It Must Have Been The Moon is another stunner. This has an Eva Cassidy kind of feel to it. Just gorgeous.

Check this brilliant feature on Drowned In Sound where Siobhan gives a track by track guide to the album. They describe There Are No Saints perfectly as elegant and beautiful, dark and stormy.

I really hope to catch Siobhan playing live in the near future. Check her website for live dates. Scottish dates confirmed at present are 24/09 Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh and 28/09 Tolbooth, Stirling. You can stream, download or buy a CD or vinyl by visiting Song By Toad Records.

Siobhan covering Aztec Camera for The Quay Sessions

Monday, 11 September 2017

Never Ending Mixtape 13

Lou Barlow

Welcome to a second edition of the Never Ending Mixtape for September. I've been travelling by train quite a bit lately and this allows quality time to listen to music. So through August and the start of September I added more songs than normal to the Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify.

There is a real indie-guitar vibe to a lot of the songs listed below. Lou Barlow is represented by Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, The White Stripes have 2 songs - the beautiful We're Going To Be Friends and the raw soulful and brilliantly titled Forever For Her (Is Over For Me), Yo La Tengo have 2, there is a cult fave by Camper Van Beethoven, Creation Records are represented, we have 3 from The Lemonheads, a beauty by The Go-Betweens, a rush of guitar pop brilliance by Sugar, some electro by Miaoux Miaoux and Happy Meals and some great new tunes I discovered by Girl Ray and The Courtneys (video at the end of the blog). Oh and Edwyn Collins is in there and Gerry Love's side project Lightships - and much, much more!

I hope you enjoy these songs. Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click on the link HERE. Scroll down to discover these songs, or dive in anywhere.

Skull  - Sebadoh
Insinuation - Folk Implosion
We're Going To Be Friends - The White Stripes
Forever For Her (Is Over For Me) - The White Stripes
I Heard You Looking - Yo La Tengo
Autumn Sweater - Yo La Tengo
Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet
Low - Cracker
Take The Skinheads Bowling - Camper Van Beethoven
Almost Prayed - The Weather Prophets
Cut Me Deep - The Jasmine Minks
Stove - The Lemonheads
Into Your Arms - The Lemonheads
Mallo Cup - The Lemonheads
Crazy Town - Velocity Girl
Spring Rain - The Go-Betweens
If I Can't Change Your Mind - Sugar
Cannonball - The Breeders
Pacer - The Amps
Don't Shilly Shally - Edwyn Collins
Stop The Clocks - Miaoux Miaoux
Altered Images - Happy Meals
Trouble - Girl Ray
Somebody - Dream Wife
Silver and Gold - Lightships
90210 - The Courtneys

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 12

Welcome, welcome, welcome to another jam packed blog where I add songs to the Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify.

Dig in to one of Damon Albarn's  most heartbreaking songs, marvel at Handsome Boy Modelling School stunning Them Truth, the garage rock pop punk delight of The Strokes, euphoric electronic dance courtesy of Ultraworld that I discovered via an Optimo tweet, a song I checked cause it has a cool title, the glorious One Dove, the truly beautiful Night Nurse, two early gems by Primal Scream, funk, soul, acid jazz,  4 stormers from early Beatles, 3 choice cuts from Rodriguez and throw in The Box Tops, The McCoys and much, much more, ending with the dreamy beauty Junk from Paul McCartney.

The Never Ending Mixtape is now sitting at 238 songs! Open Spotify and search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape or just CLICK HERE.

Scroll down to start with the latest additions, play from the start, on shuffle or however you want. Let me know what you think.

No Distance Left To Run - Blur

The Truth - Handsome Boy Modelling School featuring Roisin Murphy

Someday - The Strokes
Last Nite

Wait - The Kills

House Of The Jealous Lovers - The Rapture

Northern Piano (hardcore piano mix) -Ultraworld

Strings Of Life (Danny Krivit re-edit) - Soul Central

Where Love Lives (Come On In) - Alison Limerick

Perfume (Loved Up) - Paris Angels

White Love (Radio Mix) - One Dove

The High Road - Broken Bells

Johny Stays Cool - The Babe Rainbow

Night Nurse - Dean and Britta

Love You - Primal Scream

Velocity Girl - Primal Scream

Son Of A Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield

Love and Happiness - Al Green

Get Up Offa That Thing - James Brown

I Want To Take You Higher - Sly and the Family Stone

Hang On Sloopy - The McCoys

Goody Goody Gumdrops - 1910 Fruitgum Company

The Letter - The Box Tops

Twist and Shout - The Beatles
I'm Down 
Bad Boy 
Long Tall Sally 

Sugar Man - Rodriguez
I Think Of You

I Got My Baby Back - Lorraine Ellison

Man With The Golden Touch - Charles Thomas

You Forgot How To Love - Patti LaBelle

Afternoon of the Rhino - Mike Post Coalition

Something's Burnin' - The Marvellos

Got Myself A Good Man - Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers

Nuther'n Like Nuther'n - Willis Jackson

O'Baby (I Believe I'm Losing You) - Billy Hawks

Brand New Girl - Billy Garner

Soul Brother's Testify Part 1 - Chester Rendle's Soul Sender's
Soul Brother's Testify Part 2

I'm Just  A Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin') - Candi Staton

The Young Mod's Forgotten Story - The Impressions

Junk - Paul McCartney