Monthly Archives: February 2009

Q Magazine Track of The Day 24/02/2009

We Were Promised Jetpacks – Quiet Little Voices

Many record labels promote themselves as having a familial set-up; nurturing young bands through their first steps in the music business. Over the past few years, though, FatCat Records have taken the template to another level. A few years ago, their A&R men snapped up a Kilsyth three-piece, The Twilight Sad. They promptly shipped them out to America, rightly anticipating the positive reaction frontman James Graham’s broad Scottish brogue would gain from audiences out there. Their debut album, Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters drew huge critical acclaim as the dust settle on 2007. So what did FatCat do? Why, sign their best mates of course.

Said best mates – and frequent touring buddies – Frightened Rabbit repeated the trick last year with their exceptional second album, The Midnight Organ Fight. The record scored highly in several end-of-year-lists and earned the band praise from the likes of Biffy Clyro, Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab For Cutie, who invited Frightened Rabbit to support them on their European tour late last year. Which leads us to today’s track by We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Born in Edinburgh, based in Glasgow and friends of Frightened Rabbit, WWPJ were the next addition to FatCat’s now burgeoning Scottish stable after the keen-eyed label noticed them whilst perusing FR’s MySpace friend-list. They accompanied Death Cab for a number of dates on the aforementioned tour and have been whipping up their own little storm of hype ever since. WWJP will be releasing their as yet untitled debut album in May of this year. Whether they will repeat the success of their compatriots and stable-mates remains to be seen, but the early signs are extremely promising.

Comparisons with Franz Ferdinand are flattering but not hyperbolic, as demonstrated by today’s track, Quiet Little Voices. It’s a blistering post-punk anthem of the highest pedigree: powerful and tuneful in just the right measures, with lead singer Adam Thompson’s understated vocals keeping proceedings in check just as they threaten to spiral out of control. It’s a definite statement of intent ahead of the band’s upcoming SXSW debut and a spring album release expected.

Video: We Were Promised Jetpacks – Quiet Little Voices (live)

Originally published here:

Q Magazine Track Of The Day 22/02/2009

The Coast – Tightrope

Celine Dion. Bryan Adams. Nickelback. Shania Twain. Not a very inspiring list, is it? Just a few years ago, though, these four behemoths of the power ballad largely represented the face of Canadian music in popular perception. The landscape was bleak. Over recent years though, thanks to thriving underground scenes in Montreal and Toronto, as well as the increasing influence of the Blogosphere, things are looking up.

Led by Arcade Fire, the Montreal acts were the first to make the breakthrough, producing bittersweet baroque-pop capable of making you both dance and cry at the drop of a hat. The Toronto acts made a slightly less dramatic commercial impact but with the buoyant, free-form melodies of Broken Social Scene, the 16-bit sampling nous of Crystal Castles and the sharp, clever post-punk of Tokyo Police Club, have wowed commentators with a roster as diverse as any other in the world.

Toronto’s The Coast have been billed as “Canada’s best kept secret” and independently exemplify the diversity of their hometown scene. Theirs is a blend of synths, shoegaze guitar and clever, singalong choruses, perfectly embodied in today’s track, Tightrope.

Tightrope is taken from their full-length debut album, Expatriate, which was released on February 9 on Aporia Records. It’s a climactic combination of the cluttered dream-pop of Animal Collective and the expansive, multi-vocal sound of the aforementioned Broken Social Scene. Having played a recent UK tour and gigged with The Dears, Foals and A Place To Bury Strangers, The Coast’s stock is rising.

Video: The Coast – Tightrope (live AOL Session)

Originally published here:

Q Magazine Track of the Day 20/02/09

The Noisettes – Don’t Upset The Rhythm

The Noisettes may have a bog-standard three-piece-band line up, but that’s about as close as they get to the humdrum of indie life. For in Shingai Shoniwa, they have a lead singer blessed with a voice so soulful, it makes Beth Ditto sound like one of the Cheeky Girls.

The Croydon trio burst onto the scene with their well-received debut album, What’s The Time Mr Wolf? in 2007. They went on to earn support slots with the likes of Muse, whilst Shoniwa followed Kate Jackson of the Long Blondes into the hat as some over-zealous quarters stepped up their search for the ‘British Karen O’. Sadly, sales didn’t quite match the rapture of the reviews.

The Noisettes return in March of this year with their second album, Wild Young Hearts. Today’s track is the first single proper to be taken from it, Don’t Upset The Rhythm. It isn’t released until next month, but the chances are you’ve heard this one dozens of times already. It’s become ingrained in the public consciousness since being used to soundtrack a Mazda ad since January, but don’t let that put you off.

Don’t Upset The Rhythm is a rollicking, dancefloor-friendly blend of rock n roll, disco, funk and lashings of soul. Unsurprisingly, Shoniwa’s vocals dominate proceedings: smooth, sassy and vintage. The vitality of this track recalls Basement Jaxx’s classic debut single Red Alert, now astonishingly ten years old. Whether it will age as well remains to be seen, but Don’t Upset The Rhythm is released on March 23, with Wild Young Hearts set to follow on March 30.

Originally published here: Originally published here:

Video: The Noisettes – Don’t Upset The Rhythm

Q Magazine Track of the Day 19/02/09

Alex Roots – Don’t Stop Looking

In the pop-princess-with-attitude stakes, Britain is in grave danger of being left behind the leading pack. New Zealand has been mockingly thrusting Pip Brown (Ladyhawke) in our faces for the best part of a year. America’s potty-mouthed diva Katy Perry’s kiss-and-tell antics have seen her hog column inches and chart positions in equally obscene measures. Even Canada has gotten in on the act: the blueprint for punk-pop sprites worldwide, Avril Lavigne, has now sold over 30 million records.

It would seem the hopes of a nation lie in the fortunes of16-year-old Alex Roots, who combines the looks of Ladyhawke and the feistiness of Perry with the hook-driven sugar-punk of Lavigne. And it’s all delivered in an English accent.

Today’s track Don’t Stop Looking is taken from her forthcoming album, Adrenaline Rush and is a slice of playful, infectious electro-pop that’s as much a throwback to iconic trendsetters Lauper and Wilde as it is a reflection of any of Roots’ peers. The musical dials are set for the summer of ’88 here, with Wyld Stallyns-esque guitar solos wailing over the top of an effervescent synth riff. Chances are this one will stay in your head for a while. Roots’ debut single Fake is out on March 30, with the album to follow in June.

To listen to the track click here

Originally published here:

Q Magazine Track Of The Day 18/02/09

Jason Lytle of Grandaddy – Flying Thru Canyons

Modesto, California’s most unassuming sons Grandaddy were as unlikely heroes as you’ll ever come across, but when they disbanded in 2006 the the lo-fi, DIY shaped gap they left in the music industry was telling. Equal parts ELO and The Flaming Lips, their preoccupation with robots, obsolete household appliances and straight-up heartbreak was strangely endearing but utterly captivating. Over the course of their four studio album-long career, Grandaddy seamlessly stitched such oddball subject matter to lush melodies, winning legions of admirers.

Lead singer Jason Lytle was the only band member to tour their final record, Just Like The Fambly Cat, as they bowed out in typically low-key fashion. Until recently, not much was heard from Lytle, but he has just popped up with a guest slot on M Ward‘s new album, Hold Time. It’s a timely arrival, and coincides with the announcement of his first solo effort, Yours Truly, The Commuter, on Anti-Records.

It’s news that should delight all fans of the band, not least because many of the song titles (see I Am Lost (And The Moment Cannot Last), This Song Is The Mute Button) could easily have been lifted from a Grandaddy record. The first cut from the album to be made public, is Flying Thru Canyons. It’s a slow, piano led track that, pleasingly, recalls Jed The Humanoid and Underneath The Weeping Willow from Grandaddy’s breakthrough 1998 release, The Sophtware Slump. Yours Truly, The Commuter is released on May 19.

You can hear Flying Thru Canyons here

Originally published here:

Q Magazine Track Of The Day 17/02/08

Sambassadeur – That Town

Perhaps it’s the weather, or maybe the relative lack of daylight. We’ll probably never really know why, but over the past few years the Swedes have unceremoniously usurped their northern neighbours the Scots to become the ultimate purveyors of goofy, glorious and ever-so-marvellously-twee indie pop. With such notable exports (it would be misleading to call them heavyweights) as The Concretes, Jens Lekman, I’m From Barcelona and Peter, Bjorn and John, there seems to be an inexhaustible pool of talent to be plundered.

With their latest offering, That Town, Gothenburg quartet Sambassadeur kindly confirm to us that the Scandinavian invasion is set to continue; the conveyor belt isn’t finished just yet. Sambassadeur (named after Serge Gainsbourg’s Les Sambassadeurs) have been about for a while now; they formed in 2003 and That Town is taken from their second effort, Migration. Lead singer Anna Persson’s dreamlike vocals are not unlike compatriot Victoria Bergsman, of the aforementioned Concretes, but most recently spotted on solo project Taken By Trees: subtle and reserved, but cute as you like.

The sound here is distinctly retro, drawing a lo-fi line between crackly 80s murmur pop and 60s sunshine melodies. Led by an irresistible woodwind hook, it’s deceptively dense; there’s more going on than you might initially think. That Town has a timelessness that suggests we would’ve lapped this up twenty years ago, and probably will again twenty years from now.

Originally published here:

Video: Sambassadeur – That Town

A Brief Introduction to Le Reno Amps

As they prepare to strut their stuff at February’s Mill, Finbarr Bermingham caught up with Le Reno Amps henchmen Maple and Nero to discover that, sometimes, the simpler things in life are better

“They used to say ‘learn three chords and form a band’. We thought, why bother learning any chords at all?” 

Now, we’re by no means comparing Aberdeen indie-pop outfit Le Reno Amps to industrial noiseniks Throbbing Gristle (for a start, they all seem to have figured out a guitar’s arse from its elbow pretty adeptly), but there’s a refreshing simplicity to their music, and their attitudes towards it, that proves Genesis P-Orridge’s famous adage still rings true in the 21st Century. Why overcomplicate things when you have the talent to make fine, melodic music at your disposal?

So who are Le Reno Amps?

Hey you, put that French dictionary down! An anagram of ‘Maple’ and ‘Nero’ (told you it was simple), Le Reno Amps are an Aberdonian quartet, comprised of the aforementioned and marvellously monikered Maple and Nero (joint lead vocalists and guitarists), joined by drummer Jason Sinclair, with Lindsey Scott on bass and backing vocals. 

The band’s official biog is laced with satire and lampoon, so being the highbrow rag that we are, The Skinny asked Maple and Nero to wise up slightly, and give us a brief and utterly serious rundown of how they got to where they are now. Take it from the top, fellas:

Point 1 – Gifted Songwriter meets Gifted Songwriter, they form a duo for one-off performance at ‘Industry’ showcase. 

Point 2 – Gifted Songwriters record the songs what they wrote, put knapsacks on their backs and head off to the bright lights of Glasgow

Point 3– Gifted Songwriter #1 in catastrophic event at – you guessed it, an industry showcase, and is out of the game for a few months. Gifted Songwriter #2 uses free time to finish writing songs for album.

Point 4 – Gifted Songwriters have a crazy left-field idea of adding bass and drums to their live performance.

Point 5 – Le Reno Amps write and record Tear it Open. Available March 23rd on Drift records!
Okay, so perhaps that didn’t go wholly to plan, but you get the gist. Once a duo, now a blossoming four-piece, united by a love of… well, what exactly?

Who do they sound like and where do they fit in? 

As already discussed, the band’s penchant for a spot of avant-garde noodling is nonexistent. Some people confuse songwriting with jamming, others seem to think odd timing or song structures = ‘clever’ or ‘interesting’.

“There’s an ethos we have – whatever we write should be a robust song. And it shouldn’t outstay its welcome,” explains Mr Maple. So are we looking at the latest in a long line of FM-friendly Scottish indie pop acts? Perhaps; and when quizzed on that particular subject, Maple devises a theory of his own: 

“A lot of Scotland is made up of small, insular places. In our formative years our exposure to music is primarily radio and TV, so we grow up listening to pop music, which is all about melody. When we get a bit older we venture out into the world of ‘alternative’ music but we already have our solid grounding”.

There’s a lot of love for their peers and countrymen amongst their ranks, with polite nods going in the direction of the likes of Jesus H. Foxx, The Elvis Suicide, The Hazey Janes, De Rosa, Sparrow In The Workshop and Foxface. 

But what of the band themselves?

Alt-folk, power-pop: they’ve been squished into all those boxes. “Deliberately tumbledown,” was how their second LP was described between these very sheets back in ’07, and it sounds about as good a description as any.

When questioned about influences, the simplicity slightly dissolves, replaced instead by a multitude of bands and musicians that have combined to infuse the rather exciting sonic cocktail that is Le Reno Amps. We have Nero’s love of Prince, Randy Newman and Elvis Costello (he confesses to devouring whole back catalogues), drummer Jason’s unexplainable love for all things big and, er, drummy, bassist Lindsey’s affinity for anything ‘Nu’ (it’s unclear whether this stems to the Anglicization of the Yiddish term for ‘so’, but given what’s gone before, we severely doubt it) and Maple’s partiality to the Gordon Lightfoots and Cat Stevenses of this world.

Where can we hear Le Reno Amps?

The aforementioned Tear It Open is released in March, timed to nicely usher in the springtime sunshine (perhaps wishful thinking) and soothe the lumbersome April showers. But this shall be album number three (not to mention a number of lauded single and EP releases). With Vanity Project Scotland, they put out the LRA LP in 2004, and So For Your Thrills hit the shelves via Pet Piranha in 2007. Le Reno Amps will, of course, be playing The Mill this month; a fact that, when combined with their admirable back catalogue, leaves you scarce on excuses not to have bent your lugs around the dulcet tones of this lot at least once. 

So, what does the future hold for a band with the anagrammed name?

This is not, of course, a reference to axe-man extraordinaire Death Cube K (answers on a postcard, lexicon lovers); but with the release of their third LP imminent, what does 2009 hold for Le Reno Amps?

Maple, the band’s delegated realist, is touting for a gradual ascendancy. “We hope to achieve global domination in 2009 by selling 40 million records/downloads. Failing that, we hope to finish album 4.” But should the former come true… envisage, if you will, a quartet of Aberdonians not only on the cusp of, but embracing, superstardom. Hollywood, logically, beckons. And there’s really only one question worth posing. 

Who would star in Le Reno Amps: The Movie?

After much deliberation, Maple and Nero turn film caster and graciously nominate Al Murray to portray Sinclair, “for selfish reasons, that girl from Transformers (Megan Fox)” is cast as Ms Scott, and as for our two protagonists? “I seem to have the same traits as Larry David,” ‘fesses Maple, while Nero, not so modestly, fancies himself as a bit of McNulty off The Wire.

You never know, stranger things have happened…
Check out Le Reno Amps on

Originally published here:

Various Productions and Gerry Mitchell – The Invisible Lodger Album Review

Gerry Mitchell teams up with folk dubstep crew Various Production on a bleak, harrowing affair

To refer to Gerry Mitchell as ‘Old Misery Guts’ wouldn’t do his recording persona justice. The man is as dour as they come. Last year’s Ragged Garden release with lush orchestral outfit Little Sparta served up an interesting proposition: his spoken word vitriolic bile spouted forth upon Sparta’s warm, welcoming musical arrangements. It was a chalk and cheese marriage that worked a treat. His latest effort, with dubstep artists Various Production, is lighter on juxtaposition, generally heavier on doom and resultantly isn’t much fun at all. It’s one thing to suggest all music should be injected with B-52s levels of Prozac-flavoured vivacity, but listening to The Invisible Lodger on your tod is enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies; and when played in company it’s a sure-fire way to clear the room. Sinister, dark and morose, but not in a good way: I would call it graveyard grime, but that sounds much too interesting.

Originally published in The Skinny