Music news

The Black Angels (Live)

17th September 2013

By the time you read this, I will already have (once again) travelled up and down the country just to see The Black Angels perform live. Twice. Possibly three times if I have the strength for it.

Please visit here for as good an explanation as I can give of why. My advice is to scroll down to the full performance at the bottom, turn the lights down and the volume up…

Heavenly =




10th September 2013

It feels like Foals have been around forever. Cast your mind back and I’m sure you’ll recollect them bursting onto the music scene with super-catchy math-rock classics like ‘Cassius, it’s over!’ That was back in 2007 and since then, an unbelievable work ethic coupled with a steadfast musical integrity has seen them take on (and conquer) the rest of the world.

Earlier this year saw the release of album number three, ‘Holy Fire’ along with a substantial world tour. They’ve even managed to squeeze in a set at almost every festival known to man. And it’s in a live setting that they really come into their own. Capable of some beautifully heartfelt moments, they can easily switch into a surprising disco-bop mode and finish with a face-melting explosion. It’s quite something to behold and usually ends up in a full-on party vibe.

So, it’s reassuring to know that as they’re all still in their twenties, there’s probably plenty of shimmy-ing from guitarist, Jimmy Smith and crowd surfing by party-starting frontman Yannis yet to come…

Here they are in an intimate setting at KCRW studios in L.A. Yes, they’re even big in The States.

Go Foals! at

Ancient VVisdom

3rd September 2013

I thought everything was bigger in Texas. So I was surprised by how small legendary venue The Mohawk in Austin was when we visited it earlier this year. The welcome however, was huge. It was late afternoon and when we spoke to order a drink, the barman (followed by the security guy) said ‘No way! We should’ve been in Scotland on tour right now!’ Cue the story of how a lack of finances had forced them (or rather, the headline band) to cancel the whole tour (on which they had a support slot) at the last minute followed by their insistence on buying us a drink, and a bonding session over a shared love of music.

So much so that when we left, we headed straight to Waterloo Records and bought cd and vinyl copies of their two albums to date, A Godlike Inferno and Deathlike. They’re hard to describe but think Alice in Chains ‘Jar of Flies’ era and you’re not far off. Or you could look in your local record shop’s ‘Diabolic Folk Metal’ section. If they have one. We’re hoping that our small contribution might help them to darken these shores again as we’d love to see them, hear them play live and buy them a drink.

In the meantime, here and here they are doing their thang.

Join The Opposition at

p.s. I know they look like a scary bunch, but they didn’t try to sacrifice me on the bar or anything…


Grim Tower

27th August 2013

You may have heard me mention Black Mountain once or twice, maybe even three times (but hey, who’s counting?!). Well, I can’t help it if Stephen McBean rocks my world with almost everything he touches. And not content with the behemoth that is his day job he’s also involved in a few side projects and collaborations to fill the gaps in between.

This time it’s the turn of Imaad Wasif, a singer-songwriter in his own right also known for writing and touring with (New York alt-rockers) the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to get on board. Both are Canadian born but living in LA, so it’s hardly surprising that their worlds eventually collided. The result is Grim Tower.

They hadn’t planned to, but after allowing it to rumble around for a couple of years they (thankfully) decided to let the rest of the world in on their debut collection of work which they have entitled ‘Anarchic Breezes’. And it contains some of the finest New Acoustic Death Folk you’re ever likely to hear.

Here they are playing an excellent example down in the ‘mythical forest’.

Let your love reign down at


Editors (Live)

20th August 2013

Let me begin by clarifying one thing. Editors DO NOT sound like a Joy Division/Interpol tribute band. Those comparisons were made (via lazy journalism) early on in their career and regurgitated so often that they’ve struggled to escape from them since. There are similarities. Four blokes, a distinctive bass heavy guitar sound, a tall, skinny baritone-voiced frontman, the black & white photos…but then there’s the music.

When I bought debut album ‘The Back Room’ back in my indie-girl days, I fell in love with it almost immediately. So much so, that I was both excited and nervous at the prospect of hearing it live for the first time at The Garage, Glasgow back in 2005. It seems strange then that, even though I’ve probably seen them more times live than any other band, I still get that same feeling now when I’m on my way to see them.

During the recording of recent album, ‘The Weight Of Your Love’ there were rumours that they might be about to implode over that old ‘musical differences’ chestnut. In the end, they (sadly) lost one member but after some soul searching (and the addition of two new bods to the line-up), still managed to produce a collection of songs that couldn’t be by anyone other than them.

Here they are bringing some late afternoon euphoria to an up-for-it crowd at Glastonbury a few weeks ago.

Find a ton of Editors at

p.s. I’ll be getting my socks knocked off by these guys (again) on Saturday night at Edinburgh’s Picture House. And yes, EXCITED!


Ben Howard

13th August 2013

I first saw Ben Howard perform on a music chat show a few years back. Sitting on a stool with his guitar, all blue eyes and floppy hair, I assumed that he was the music industry’s latest boy band reject. But that notion was thrown straight back in my face as I quickly realised that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

London born but growing up in Devon around his parents record collection of John Martyn, Simon and Garfunkel and Van Morrison clearly had an impact. With an enormous amount of soul for someone so young, he pours a lot of it into both his vocal and guitar playing, reaching out and touching audiences almost universally. Even his own band members (an amazing bunch of multi-talented musicians themselves) regularly look quite pleased to be part of it. And, who can blame them…

Here they are creating some of that magic for all those that were close enough to experience this at Glastonbury a couple of months ago (including the young girl overcome with emotion at about 3 minutes 38 seconds in). You lucky people.

Keep your head up at



6th August 2013

On the way to Austin Psych Fest (please see my last post), we decided to take a slight detour via Dallas. This was mainly because Black Mountain were playing a gig there a couple of nights beforehand and we decided that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them twice in quick succession. But as a bonus, we discovered it was to be a night of all Canadian craziness with both Suuns and The Besnard Lakes supporting.

I had always been quite intrigued by Suuns debut album ‘Zeroes QC’ but what I hadn’t banked on was that their newly released “Images du Futur’ would take them to a completely new level. This stuff is super catchy, highly addictive and can go round in your head for days. It also takes on a life of its own, live. Which was a real result seeing as we would be doing it all again within 48 hours.

Here they are getting into that infectious groove during a live SXSW set at a local bike shop (obviously).

And It’s good feeling good at

p.s. I had never really connected with The Besnards work before but I have to say that their studio albums don’t do them justice and they really are a superb live band.

p.p.s. Black Mountain were at their usual awesome best on both occasions. The only disappointment I felt was at the end of their set when they stopped playing. I hate that bit…

Austin Psych Fest

30th July 2013

Music festival season has taken me back to April this year when we made the trip over to Austin Psych Fest for the second year running. We hadn’t planned to, until we saw the first wave line-up announcement in December. With some great bands already listed (Black Mountain, Warpaint, B.R.M.C and of course, The Black Angels) along with a new outdoor location (58 acre Carson Creek Ranch), it would’ve been rude not to.

It’s quite a relaxed festival but with plenty to see and do, we took advantage of wandering between stages to soak up as much atmosphere (and music) as we could. We found ourselves especially fond of the river stage that sits on the banks of the Colorado. The photograph on the right should give you an idea as to why we spent a lot of time down there. The natural amphitheatre and stage are just out of shot to the left of this…

As well as the above list, I’d like to commend the following bands (in no particular order) – The Besnard Lakes, Om, The Cult of Dom Keller, Suuns, Wall of Death, Goat, Tinariwen, Night Beats, Golden Animals and The Warlocks.

Ah, the memories. Let’s see what news this December brings…

Psych! at

Classic Album Sundays

25th May 2013

Check out this great documentary from City Radio, about Classic Album Sundays. Featuring our very own John Carroll from the Edinburgh store, and Allan Boyd and Andrew Pirie from the Glasgow store, it tells the story of how Classic Album Sundays were born and how they have caught on around the world.

Lunatic Soul

9th April 2013

I know that words like ‘genius’ tend to be over/misused these days (along with a whole load of others) but there are times when I think it’s warranted. And I don’t think it would be inappropriate to use it when describing a musician like Mariusz Duda. He is the bass playing frontman for Polish prog-rockers Riverside (please see my last post for details of them) and also apparently, a whole lot more.

Lunatic Soul is an outlet for his solo work and away from his day job, he appears to have plenty of ideas of his own. As well as enough talent to provide vocals and perform a high percentage of the instruments himself (along with some mixing, production and artistic direction obviously). Yes that’s right, we already know he can rock a bass guitar but he’s also quite at home with an acoustic guitar, keyboard/piano, drums and percussion. In fact, his albums are distinctive by the omission of an electric guitar but certainly don’t lack anything because of that. They are lush, organic and atmospheric.

This is evident in particular on the most recent release “Impressions” which is mostly instrumental. As I am quite partial to Mr Duda’s vocal, my own personal favourite is volume 2 but as a rule I would heartily recommend trying any/all of his work. He has a lot (probably too much for one person) to offer.

Check into the asoulum at


19th March 2013

Riverside were mentioned to me by a fellow fan of music (you know who you are) and although I had checked out their previous efforts, I hadn’t really connected with what they were doing. Until now. This music fan mentioned during an exchange of e-mails that he was spinning their new record (yes, the actual 12 inch black plastic version), and it was enough to make me fire it up for a quick listen. I soon found it on repeat for the next couple of days. And playing regularly after that.

I couldn’t agree more with a comment someone made regarding this album, saying that it was like ‘the same band but in a different mood’. And although it seems like a contradiction, they sound more mature and yet more playful at the same time. It’s a combination that really suits them.

Long-time fans of some bands can have a tendency to feel alienated due to even the smallest change in direction (Opeth anyone?) but I can’t help but think that if you don’t like it, then there’s usually a whole back catalogue (4 albums with extras, a couple of EP’s and a live DVD in this case) for you to go back to. That’s how they’ve earned the right to try something new. And also why it’s called ‘Progressive’ rock.

See you down by the river at

p.s. Not that it matters but theses guys are (surprisingly) Polish.

p.p.s. I saw them in Glasgow on Saturday night on their first ever visit to Scotland. And they ROCKED IT!



Quest For Fire

12th March 2013

Forming from the remnants of other bands might be how Quest for Fire came by their ‘stoner rock’ tag. It’s a bit of a lazy generalisation and not all that accurate as far as I’m concerned. However, second album ‘Lights from Paradise’ could be labelled as stoned rock. With a psychedelic chaser and a side order of indie.

The band themselves say that it’s an homage to all their favourite music thrown into one big melting pot and if I didn’t know otherwise, I would almost swear that they were from the UK. Sure they can do the whole heavy guitar, big drums thing but they also excel on some of the lengthier, mellower pieces such as opening track “The Greatest Hits by God’ and central track ‘Confusion’s Home’ (which I was caught in a 10 minute swirling ball of when I saw them).

So I was sad to hear recently that they had decided to call it a day and played their last ever show on the 15th February on their home turf in Toronto, Canada. It does however, make me doubly delighted that we made the effort to see them at last year’s Austin Psych Fest and I wish them every success in their chosen future projects…

Quest for crazy Canadians at


I Am Kloot

5th March 2013

The Kloot might not ever rock your world. They’re more likely to buy you a pint and tell you a bad joke. But that’s the point. They sound like the kind of guys that you could easily spend a Saturday night down the pub with. That’s not to say that their music isn’t top quality stuff though.

Last album ‘Sky at Night’ got them some well deserved coverage via their 2010 Mercury prize nomination but by then they had already been plugging away at it since 1999, gathering a legion of fans along the way.

It’s all very well being catapulted to ‘next big thing’ status by the music industry, but there’s a lot more merit in doing it the hard way. Not to mention the work, experience and the ‘never getting too big for your boots’ lessons that it teaches you. It’s hard to imagine anything otherwise from these guys.

Latest album ‘Let It All In’ is no exception. Beautifully crafted and worded, you can tell it comes from the heart. And one with a great sense of humour too.

Mine’s a pint at


26th February 2013

You may not have heard of Hexvessel. Neither had I until I read about them recently in a back issue of Prog magazine, who made it sound interesting enough for me to give it a try. And I’m glad I did.

2011’s ‘Dawnbreaker’ was the solo effort of English born singer/songwriter Mat McNerney (aka Kvohst) and was a departure from his previous musical endeavours, which include bands from the death/black metal scene.

Second album offering ‘No Holier Temple’ sees him combine talents with seven other soul-mates (who he met when they played in the band at his wedding) to create a beautiful and surprising collection of folky-psychedelic-prog-rock.

Describing themselves as ‘Forest folk from Finland’, they look and sound just like that and have been so well hidden deep in the woods that I’m grateful to have found them at all…

Can’t see the woods for the trees at



19th February 2013

Whilst checking out the list of bands on the line-up for last year’s Austin Psych Fest, I stumbled upon Federale. After a quick listen and some online investigation, I became a little confused as what I was reading didn’t quite match up with what I was hearing and it wasn’t long before I figured out that there are two bands who share that name. One from Brooklyn, New York who have a classic funk-rock sound (check out ‘Not Your Vessel’) and the other Portland, Oregon-based band who specialise in writing the soundtrack to your favourite imaginary spaghetti western. Probably.

A diverse collective of musicians, (and as noted when I saw them at the festival) there can be as many as fourteen of them on stage at any one time creating a symphony whose talents include Native American flute, trumpet, keyboards, timpani, duelling drums, and the obligatory guitars along with soaring operatic vocals and a male voice choir who also whistle when required. Essentially, all the sounds that a good (bad or ugly) cowboy should hear in everyday life.

Lastest album ‘The Blood Flowed Like Wine’ expands on their previous work and includes additional vocals by Alex Maas of The Black Angels (who appeared unexpectedly on stage with them at PF and made my night) and KP Thomas of Spindrift. And it’s become the soundtrack to my very own favourite spaghetti western…

You can saddle up and sample some good quality live footage at

Biffy Clyro

12th February 2013

I first became aware of The Biff when a loved one gave me their first two albums to try, on the premise that I might agree to attend a gig with him. I wasn’t sure, even after several listens whether I liked them or not. I can probably put that down to the fact that I had never heard anything like it before but I agreed to the gig as I knew they had something. It was at the Carling Academy in Glasgow, which I thought was rather a large venue for such a little known band and I wasn’t surprised to see that it seemed relatively empty when they took to the stage.

I’ll never forget that night, because nothing could have prepared me for the atmosphere (and noise) created by the three blokes on stage and a small but bonkers crowd of fans. There was a lot of love in that room. At times, I could barley hear the band over the crowd’s sing-a-long and it’s way up there on my list of ‘best atmosphere at a gig’. I didn’t even know half the songs but I left there on a high and the rest of the world soon caught on with the release of their ‘Puzzle’ album not long after.

Fast forward and new album Opposites (their 6th) has just scored them their first number one. If you want a taste of what they do to people in a live setting, please head straight to their ‘Revelations’ Live At (and tearing up, I might add) Wembley DVD. I can’t think of another band who are not only home-grown but have worked so hard for their success and never compromised themselves. They deserve every bit of it.

All together now – ‘MON THE BIFF!!! at


18th December 2012

A lot of people will remember Supergrass as a bit of a ‘comedy’ band, which is partly true. They did have a great sense of humour. But have a closer look and listen to their back catalogue and you might be surprised by how much great stuff they wrote. A particular highlight for me was ‘Road to Rouen’, the title of which is a nod to both the area of France that it was recorded in and The Ramones album of a similar name.

It was born during a really difficult personal time for some of the band members. Brothers Gaz and Rob had just lost their mother and bad boy Danny’s personal life was being shredded by the media. The orchestral arrangements coupled with the slightly introspective vibe makes it sound like a more mature version of them. But very much still a Supergass record. And their best and most complete work as far as I’m concerned.

They were great live too, toured extensively and had a reputation for being great to work with. They’ve all embarked on solo/side projects since disbanding in 2010 but still have the beginnings of a 7th, as yet unfinished studio album lurking somewhere…

Visit if you want to hear them pumping on your stereo again.

Pure Reason Revolution

11th December 2012

It’s time for another ‘support band incident’. And probably one of the best. Because the headline band sucked (no names and I’m sorry, but you did) so it was a relief that we at least left with these guys ringing in our ears. All the more surprising because most of the time, we avoid getting to gigs too early due to having endured more than a few horrendous support slots. So when they arrived on stage, we weren’t all that interested. For about 30 seconds. Then I found my ears (closely followed by the rest of me) drawn towards the stage.

The band themselves have cited everyone from Pink Floyd to Porcupine Tree (who they later toured with) to Fleetwood Mac as influences and you can hear that all over their delightful debut ‘The Dark Third’. It’s a beautiful combination of floaty, atmospheric prog covered in folk-tinged vocal harmonies that occasionally bursts into a face melting riff explosion. It’s a shame that their progress was somewhat hindered by a few band member issues, which eventually led to a change of direction and subsequent albums never had quite the same charm for me. I’m sorry that they’ve split but I’ll never forget that first gig.

Here they are live and beautifully captured by Rockpalast at


The Dead 60's

4th December 2012

I didn’t know that there was a big ska meets punk scene in Liverpool back in the early 2000’s. Maybe there wasn’t. But if there was, it was probably down to The Dead 60’s. Starting out in their teens, they changed their name twice and recorded a couple of EP’s, a session for John Peel and toured with some big names before announcing that they had split in 2003.

A few months later, they re-appeared as The Dead 60’s and began to tour again extensively with more big name bands, this time including the festival circuit. They won over a lot of people with their infectious, updated take on the genre, as demonstrated on their self titled debut. They even achieved some success in The States due to the popularity of single, (ironically) ‘Riot Radio’.

Before they disbanded in 2008, I was lucky enough to catch them at the Liquid Rooms as part of T On The Fringe in ’06. Now that was a fun gig. With a lot of silly dancing. And probably the most attitude and the best sound I’ve heard there. Ever.

Their own website is under maintenance but you can visit for more info.

The Cinematics

27th November 2012

Over the last few years, there has been a spate of bands ‘reforming’ but (I won’t name any names) not always successfully or for the right reasons. Over the next few weeks, I would like to give a mention to some that I wish had never split up in the first place. First up, some homegrown talent…

I love a ‘support band incident’. This involves falling for a band that I never knew existed. And The Cinematics definitely qualify for that. It was a particularly good night as both the second support band and the headliners didn’t disappoint but something about these guys really stuck with me. Probably singer Scott Rinning, who managed to nail the angst-ridden front man thing perfectly whilst also demonstrating an amazing set of pipes. So we were delighted when they announced debut album ‘A Strange Education’ accompanied by a date at King Tut’s.

For an album that’s jam-packed with ‘hits’ I’m still amazed that they had to go all the way from Glasgow (Dingwall originally) to New York to get signed. With support from the label, they toured extensively and picked up a lot new fans. Then they were dropped when the company was bought over a couple of years later and lead guitarist Ramsay also parted company with the band. He was replaced by Larry Reid who had toured with them previously and a second album ‘Love and Terror’ and EP ‘Silent Scream’ were released. But it was during the recording of a third album in Germany that things very abruptly came to an end and an announcement was made to that effect.

Only the band know what happened but you can find out more about the music at

Opeth (Live)

20th November 2012

I’m late with this post. Mainly because I still haven’t recovered from my first Opeth ‘live’ experience last week. And I’m not sure I ever will. So by way of an explanation, I would like to share this with you. Apologies in advance if it has the same affect on you that it has had on me. 

p.s. This performance was part of last year’s slightly lighter tour set to promote the newly released ‘Heritage’ album. Last week, (contrary to current rumours) they were back to rolling out some big guns like ‘Deliverance’ and popular encore ‘Blackwater Park’. I’m not sure if the venue suffered any structural damage but I think I may have…

Jack White

13th November 2012

For most people, Mr Jack White III doesn’t need much introduction. He is the singer-songwriting, multi-instrument playing musician and producer who fronted popular Detroit garage duo The White Stripes, collaborated with Brendan Benson on The Raconteurs as well as rocking the role of drummer in The Dead Weather. Somehow he also found the time to move to Nashville and set up Third Man Records which incorporates a label, studio and record shop. So when The White Stripes decided to disband, he found himself with some unexpected time on his hands. Then, one day when an artist cancelled their booking at the last minute, he found himself with an empty studio and a group of musicians expecting to work…

That was how solo album ‘Blunderbuss’ began life. Spontaneously, like a lot of things in Jack’s life. Including his live shows. Alternating between two backing bands, the all female ‘Peacocks’ and all male ‘Buzzards’ depending on mood etc, they follow Jack’s lead without the aid of a setlist. And what a setlist it is. Picking through his extensive career, these bands breathe new life into old favourites and make his solo work really come to life. So we felt privileged that he chose to end his short UK tour at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall last week and he didn’t disappoint, playing an extra long set with both bands.

If you missed it, never fear. You can sample a full show at


Puscifer (and A Perfect Circle)

6th November 2012

When good musicians hit their stride and comfort zone in a band, some have a tendency for starting side projects that allow them to stretch their creative wings in other directions. Say hello to Mr Maynard James Keenan. Not content with a 20+ year career in massively popular ‘art-metal’ band Tool (you can read my comments about them further down the page) his then guitar technician, Billy Howerdel persuaded him to create band number two, A Perfect Circle. I don’t think that either of them could have anticipated how that was going to blow up in their face, with all 3 of their album releases achieving either gold or platinum sales status in the US. But apparently, Mr Keenan still has a lot to get off his chest.

Puscifer is his solo project with only himself as a permanent member. He is however, surrounded by an ever changing crew of talent that allow him to take this project out on the road and it does indeed appear to be a completely different experience in comparison to any of his other work. This is a bit more than music. You can arrange to meet and greet the man himself and enjoy a glass of wine from his vineyard (did I forget to mention that ‘side project’?). He describes himself as a professional jackass and his advice for these live shows is ‘to arrive happy and hungry and prepared for all possibilities’. The mind boggles.

Find your inner boy scout at

My Sleeping Karma

30th October 2012

When 3 members of German stoner rock band The Great Escape began jamming together they planted the seeds of what was to become My Sleeping Karma. When the main project disbanded in 2006, they drafted in the help of a keyboard player to allow them to expand on the instrumental sound that they had created for themselves and their self-titled debut came out later that year to favourable reviews.

Their third album, ‘Tri’ holds a special place in my heart and although I’m still getting to grips with new album ‘Soma’, my initial listens have confirmed that they have once again upped their game with another natural progression.

Guitarist Seppi and bassist Matte look like they’ve spent most of their lives in the gym and that you wouldn’t want to spill a drink on them down the pub. But they’ve embraced the whole karmic way of life that they so beautifully refer to through their song and album titles and are really just a pair of big, solid fluffy soldiers. And a great reminder not to go judging people by their appearance.

Find out what comes around at

The Cosmic Dead

23rd October 2012

There are some good reasons to likeThe Cosmic Dead. One, they hail from Glasgow (but let’s not hold that against them) so are homegrown talent. Two, they are funny (please refer to their website/facebook page for proof of this). And three, because they rule. They also have a great work ethic. With 3 releases in just over a year (you can download the free ‘Psychonaut’ collection for a taster) including a set of live recordings and some even available on cassette tape which is a lovely, if not very practical touch. They also appear to be the go-to support band for a few venues in Glasgow and it was at The Captain’s Rest that we had our first encounters with them supporting a couple of our favourite bands (Pontiak and Arbouretum).

We were suitably impressed the first time even though we only caught the end of their set and had no idea who they were. Second time, we had arrived quite early and were sitting in the bar when the unmistakable sound of one of their psychedelic space-rock jams drifted up to us. We exclaimed “Its the bloody Cosmic Dead!” as we bounded down the stairs to join them. Afterwards, we spoke to guitarist James and asked where we might be able to purchase some of their tunes, at which point he produced a bundle of CD’s from his pocket. Once we had exchanged a whole fiver for ours, we noticed a small queue forming behind us which included members of the headline band and crew who were also heard enquiring about their playing style and inspiration. Not bad for a local support band.

And if you ask then nicely, they’ll even come and play at your house party. No really, they will. Just check out their list of past gigs.

All hail The Cosmic Dead at

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