Sunday 20 December 2009

The OK Social Club Interview catches up with scene starters The OK Social Club in the band's spiritual home, The Royal Mile Tavern. We discuss the band, their new EP That's What She Said and the Edinburgh music scene.

Myke Hall

Monday 16 November 2009

s/e/l/l/o/t/a/p/e - The Forest Cafe Edinburgh 22 Oct 2009

Beginning at the beginning: the Forest Cafe is as usual abuzz with the chattering of the 21st century version of beatniks. People are reading, drinking herbal drinks, eating vegan snacks, sitting on damaged mismatched donated furniture, under hand-decorated walls, house-plants and candles in bottles. A documentary on the Riot Grrl movement is being projected against one wall, but all that can be heard is a mumble. There are maybe two people watching it.

What follows is a series of female hippy guitar and poetry recitals. There's possibly a loose theme of anti-sexism and 'Dear Diary' emotional confessionism. The compère, dressed in punk leather and metal, introduces her own band next. This is their maiden performance, and they sprint through one three chord song with angry Italian lyrics, to a tremendous ovation from an audience that are likely high.

The star of the show, of course, was vikisellotape, and her band s/e/l/l/o/t/a/p/e. Drunk to the point where she could barely stand up, Viki squeezed onto the tiny stage that her other band members had filled up. Sellotape belong to that odd genre "no wave", which uses artiness from bands like The Velvet Underground as the template for lo-fi tunes involving noise, dissonance, broken tempos and non-rhyming phrases. Often they sound improvised, and usually they sound chaotic, which is why it's oh-so-interesting when the band change gears on a penny, be it in tempo or dynamic, and prove that this is exactly how it's supposed to sound.

Guitar is provided by former The Dreamt frontman Andrew R. Hill, who kept the strings glittering through new wave riffs and shoegazing noise, despite a drunken Viki stumbling all over his pedals and kicking out his leads. Bass was equally well executed, whether it was bouncy ska-style riffs or just one single repeating heartbeat note. In fact, the drums were often the only instrument that felt like they were playing the song, and the other instruments created planned chaos around them.

The eye, however, cannot help but be drawn to Viki. Dressed in all black and white, from her white hairband to her chequered short skirt to her two-tone heels, with black makeup and black writing up her arms; whether she's screaming into her mic, like a toddler having a fit, then writhing on the floor like she's in sexual ecstasy, or crawling around like Velma looking for her glasses; Viki is definitely an entertainer, and the booze lowering her inhibitions was like throwing petrol on a tyre fire.

Her occasional bursts of synthesizer couldn't really be heard in this venue of fifth-hand equipment, but it was probably just as well, as she might not have been able to see the keys. The lyrics explore such Kafka-esque concepts as cutting off, then reattatched a mammary gland on 'My Left Tit' and curbing instability and violent thoughts on 'Plastic Bag'.

In many ways, this was the best environment to experience Sellotape. The ludicrous melting pot of alternative cultures, the extensive inebriation of the frontgirl, a tattered drum kit and PA on their very last legs, they all amplified the extroverted entropy that the songs expose.
 Myke Hall

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Mudhoney and The Vaselines - HMV Picturehouse Edinburgh 9 Oct 2009

The Scottish band The Vaselines are well known in the world of grunge, perhaps most famously because their song Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam (also known as 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam') was performed by Nirvana during their 'MTV Unplugged in New York' performance. While they do seem to fit well on a grunge bill, with their DIY production style and use of overdrive, a Scottish ear hears differently. The band are more reminiscent of dreich Scots folk-indie bands like Belle and Sebastian, Arab Strap or St Jude's Infirmary - it’s a band type we are quite familiar with. The two vocalist/guitarists, Eugene and Francis, share the spotlight like a brother and sister. Gracious enough to let the other have attention, but with a natural rivalry underneath, like they are craving Mummy's attention. (In this metaphor, the crowd is Mummy). Oh, and apparently they have differing opinions on thongs 9the girl likes them, the guy doesn't). Joined by a calm bassist and a slightly more enthusiastic drummer, the band have indeed aged since their late 80s heyday, and the nine year gap in their career prior to the 2006 reunion may have sapped some of the juice out of their punk spirit, but the band still chime and thrash in equal measure and seem genuinely pleased to be playing to a crowd.

Mudhoney (Photo by Richard Dyson) love to rock out. Of that there can be no denying. With a buzz sound on the bass and clattering drums, the lead singer pulls his best moves on stage. There's a lot of Mick Jagger going on there, and maybe just a hint of Ian Brown. The songs are made up of fast paced distorted power riffs, and yelled choruses. However, it’s not until the singer straps on a guitar that things really start to heat up. The lyrics are all things the previously-disillusioned former-youth audience should be familiar with, but may be new to the post-emo young of today: confusion, sexual frustration and sickness. Never is this more exemplified that in the fan favourite Touch Me I'm Sick, which the band recently told The Skinny would be great for a drain cleaner commercial.

While some argue that grunge music is no longer culturally or musically relevant, a resurgance of interest in bands like The Melvins, Alice in Chains, and Mudhoney themselves seems to suggest otherwise. Either way, it’s great to see one of the original Seattle sound grunge bands live and on form.
Myke Hall

Saturday 31 October 2009

Feature: Jaded Playboy

“The only people who are getting ahead in life are these sort of people who are at the top of the ivory tower or whatever, and everyone else just has to put up with that, and that’s what it’s about really, its just being ****ing sick of it”

Rock, in Scottish music today, is a dirty word. Bands will describe themselves as “indie” or even “pop” before they say the dreaded “R” word. It has negative connotations of unoriginality, outdated ideals, and bad AC/DC covers. Jaded Playboy, as a rock band, are fairly unsupported on the Edinburgh music circuit. They wave the flag for Seattle grunge and London punk, even if it means getting disappointed looks from Oasis fans and metal-heads alike.

Edinburgh four piece Jaded Playboy have been together since Winter 2007. The band are made up of three Edinburgh lads: guitarist Ross, bassist Kenny, and drummer Zander, and lead singer Scott, a former metal kid from Dorset and Bristol. “Like all good relationships,” Scott comments, “we got together at Christmas”.

The band are headed up by Ross, who takes the role of songwriter. “I don’t find anything in happy songs,” Ross confesses, “which might sound sort of… y’know”. He laughs as description escapes him. “But at the end of the day I find my inspiration in the darker side of life. So when I write a lyric that’s in that sort of vein then that’s when I feel ****ing alive, y’know?”

When put this simply, it's not too difficult to see where Jaded Playboy’s music come from. Forever focusing on the darker emotions, their music is born of the same spirit that sparked grunge, that sparked punk, that sparked metal, that even sparked rock and roll in the beginning.

Never is that more apparent than on the song ‘Lost Inside’. The lyrics are a political comment on people in power, who break promises and abuse their positions, and how the human condition is to pretend to have a good time and continue regardless. While the band themselves know they aren’t exactly starting a revolution, they use this song to vent their own frustration. “Even though you can’t start a revolt," Ross explains. "That’s our way of getting it out." “That is our pure release!” Singer Scott states. “We ****ing just let go on that song. It’s just ****ing do what you want. Hit your drums as hard as you want, do whatever you want on the bass, sing whatever you want. It’s our ‘get ourselves in the zone’ song… Turn all the shit in life into something decent”.

‘Lost Inside’ is the first track of Jaded Playboy’s new EP, recorded at Red Eye Studios in Clydebank. The four tracks are tied together by a theme that is reflected in the title ‘Broken Heartland’; a land of broken hearts. While the first track is about anger at the politics of our government and our society, the proceeding tracks ‘Hero to Zero’ and ‘I’m Not There’, bring the topic closer to home with an examination of failed relationships and dealing with the ‘why’s and ‘what now’s.

The artwork was designed by Brad George of Love/Hate Tattoos. The front cover is of a satellite view of a country shaped like a broken heart and tinted red, surrounded by a sea of black, representing the dual themes on the album of broken hearts and a country divided between the people in power and those who have to live with it. The CD itself is adorned with a much more tattoo-looking image, as if to prove the designer is used to designing tattoos, of a heart, roses, a gold key, and the band name and album written on the banner that would usually have a girls name or the word “Mum”.

The sound Jaded Playboy create on the stage is highly passionate. Ranging from distorted rock outs to chorus-tinged, lively bass showstoppers, all led by Scott’s very Brandon Boyd-like characterful voice, with all the boys looking like their having a good time up there. Over September and October, Jaded Playboy have been on tour all over Scotland, promoting their release at a grass roots level, and have received praise from the likes of BBC Scotland's Jim Gellatly and BFBS Worldwide Radio.

The final song on the EP, ‘Broken Heartland’, comes attached with a heart melting story too. Originally conceived as a full band number, the track evolved into an acoustic song, with Ross singing lead vocals. Right up until they were recording in the studio, Scott had never managed to nail the track. Ross was on his third attempt at the vocals, with Scott listening. Scott wasn’t in a good mood that day. He had split up with someone he cared a lot about, and something clicked. He finally understood the song, and the way it was supposed to be sung. It finally made sense. “There’s too much emotion in there,” Scott explains. “I’m usually like, all the other songs: massive energy, massive emotion and I put everything into it, and that song is just devoid, it’s absent, of any energy whatsoever. The only way you can sing it is if you just don’t give a sh** about it. Going pure apathy. That song is just pure apathy.”

Scott went into the vocal booth, sang the song, and hit the nail on the head. “That one take is the only time I’ve ever sung it properly. It's the first time I’d ever sung it properly and it's recorded and it's rough as ****: it's out of tune, it's out of key, it's all over the place, but I think it just added something to it. The fact that it was just... it's just someone that’s at the bottom and they can’t sing properly and it doesn’t matter if it's sung in tune. It's like someone’s talking to you over the song; I think that’s what we were trying to convey, it’s not meant to be a song that’s sung to you, it's just somebody telling you a story.”

Now that their promotional months are finished, Jaded Playboy are moving on. Writing new songs, choosing their next steps. More of the same. There’s rumours of an Argentina tour. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where they take it next.

On his experiences of touring and being in the band, Scott tells me:

“We’re so happy we’re in a band. Don’t care if we make it, don’t care what happens, but its just cool meeting people in these bands, watching these bands for free, most of the people in the world are sat in watching ****ing Casualty or whatever people watch on telly, and we’re out making friends, watching great bands and living life”.

Myke Hall

Thursday 22 October 2009

News: Cybraphon the emotional robot band nominated for BAFTA

I missed this news story the first time around so figured I would give this update the time it deserves.

The blog-reading emotional steam-punk robot band has been nominated for a Scottish BAFTA.

Cybraphon is the creation of the seemingly infinitely innovative glitch-folk nuts-cum-art collective FOUND. Ziggy, the band’s lead singer, calls it “an autonomous, emotional robot band”. Tommy, also from the collective, who presumably knows fewer big words, calls it “a musical cupboard with a personality that’s attached to the Internet”. Cybraphon is a gorgeous one-robot-band built with a combination of electronic components, atypical acoustic or obsolete instruments, some lights and various knick-knacks, all housed in an antique wardrobe. It can be programmed to play certain tunes, controlled via an attached MacBook, or just left to its own devices.

Cybraphon’s mood is shown on a dial on the top shelf, and ranges from desolation through gloom, contentment, and jubilation, right up to delirium. It plays one of many tunes programmed into it by FOUND when the infra-red motion detectors see it has an audience. The tune it plays depends on its mood.

The coup de grâce is how it determines its mood. Cybraphon actually goes on the Internet, via the attached Mac, and looks up sites like Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Wordpress, even Flickr to see if people are talking about it online. If they are saying nice things, if it's getting lots of hits, or lots of people are adding it as a friend, Cybraphon gets happier. If they are saying nasty things, or aren’t talking at all, Cybraphon gets sad.

Cybraphon spent the Edinburgh Festival 2009 as an installation at the InSpace Gallery but has since been switched off. What makes it “art” is that it’s a comment on the moody, whiny indie bands and pop stars that are obsessed with their following, not their music, and are fuelled by ego rather than passion.

I can only imagine how excited Cybraphon will be when it is switched back on to discover it has been nominated for the ‘British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ Interactive award. It’s up against ‘The Lost Book’ and the British Music Experience museum at The O2 arena. Perhaps tough competition, but Cybraphon is just about the coolest concept I’ve come across in a long time.

Download its first EP from the Cybraphon website.
Myke Hall

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Feature: Frightened Rabbit, CHUTES, Withered Hand and Broken Records

Its Friday 4 Sept 2009, Edinburgh is celebrating getting their city back from the tourists and production companies over the fest with a good Friday night out. The acoustic show will take in solo performances from some of the Edinburgh music scene's glitterati. caught up with the performers backstage at Electric Circus (or more accurately the little room beside the stage) to ask them about their sets tonight, their experiences of The Edge festival, and what lies ahead.

Danny Chutes (with Adam Chutes and Rory Broken Records)
Front man of moody indie band Chutes

The Edge: Chutes didn't take part in the Edge festival this year, they've been too busy recording their album. Its about half done at the moment. Its not necessarily what you might expect from seeing their live performance, and includes some new arrangements: including strings and acoustic guitars.

The Electric Cabaret Show: Danny played some Chutes songs, and some that are just his own, backed up by bandmate Adam on upright bass and Rory from Broken Records on violin and mini-accordion. With two guitarists already in his band, Danny enjoys the opportunity to play as well as sing.

As a Solo Artist: With Chutes, songwriting is a collaborative project. On his own, Danny gets to play some songs that he has written just on his own. Having been stuck in the sometimes frustrating and labourious process of recording an album, Chutes haven't been gigging much recently. His solo songwriting is a good release. He can play what he wants, make up lyrics on the spot, its much more free and personally expressive.

On the Horizon: Apart from the new album in production, Danny would like to big up The Depot, a rehearsal and recording studio down in Granton run by his bandmates Craig and Stu.

Rory Broken Records
Violist from Broken Records plays "second fiddle" accompanying Danny Chutes

The Edge: Broken Records were worried that all their fanbase would be going to the Frightened Rabbit gig, a day later at Queens Hall too, and so wouldn't bother with their gig. It was also their first Edinburgh show in about six months. But the turn-out was excellent and the show was fantastic.

Accompanying Danny Chutes: Broken Records and Chutes have known each other a long time. Being part of the Edinburgh indie music scene, they've played a lot of gigs together, have gone touring together, and have become friends. Danny and Rory first met at the Christmas Songwriters Club. A group of around 7 songwriters get together and play four songs, often of a Christmas theme, to each other around the 22nd of December.

On the Horizon: From September through to Christmas, Broken Records are going on our a British and European tour with fellow Edinburgh band We See Lights. After that, they'll be working on their second album.

Withered Hand
High voiced solo acoustic songsmith

The Edge: Dan, the off-stage name of performer Withered Hand, supported Jeffrey Lewis at The Edge this year, and his band Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard. The other support act was Jeffrey's brother's band 'Jack Lewis and the Fisherman Three'. Dan is a big fan of both Jeffrey and Jack, and was happy to be supporting them once again. He says its weird playing with someone you really admire, but is happy he's becoming Jeffrey's go-to support act for Scottish gigs.

The Electric Cabaret Show: Unlike the other acts playing, Withered Hand is used to taking to the stage as a solo artist. His set was standard and unaltered.

As a Solo Artist: Although Withered Hand is essentially a solo act, Dan often takes to the stage with a backing band, made up of some of his friends, including Neil from Meursault. His band play banjo, cello, drums or accordion, whatever best accompanies each song.

On the Horizon: Withered Hand's debut album 'Good News' came out on 7 Sept 2009 through SL Records with producer Mark Kramer, known for working with American band Galaxie 500. Fans may notice different versions of familiar tracks compared to his previous lo-fi EPs.

Scott Frightened Rabbit
Main man of Selkirk comma World epic indie band Frightened Rabbit

The Edge: Having a headline show at The Edge festival was something Frightened Rabbit really enjoyed. Now a worldwide band, they play Scotland a lot less often, and so the gig was like a homecoming for them.

The Electric Cabaret Show: Scott played a mixture of classic Frightened Rabbit tunes, to please the crowd, and some new songs. The new songs have already been recorded for the new album, but some of them had never been performed in front of an audience, and this was a chance to see how they go down.

As a Solo Artist: While Scott has done solo shows before, he's now far more used to taking to the stage with his full band. But the band have been working on their new album over the Summer. Scott admires the work ethic of bands like The Hold Steady and Belle and Sebastian, who tour relentlessly and record albums whenever they get a spare chance. Scott reckons recording should be a joy, not a chore.

On the Horizon: The new Frightened Rabbit album is out in March 2010. The as yet untitled LP was recorded at Castle Sound in Pencaitland, East Lothian with producer Peter Katis, who's previously worked with The National and Interpol.

The full band are also back in Edinburgh on the 21st of October for 'Music Like A Vitamin' at HMV Picture House with Attic Lights, and a solo performance from Rod Jones of Idlewild and Teenage Fanclub, in support of a Scottish mental health charity. Tickets are a mere fiver.
Myke Hall

Saturday 3 October 2009

Malcolm Middleton @ The Edge - Cabaret Voltaire Edinburgh 27 Aug 2009

Article originally published by, and property of The Daily Record:

Malcolm Middleton shuffled onto the stage to open his set with Red Travellin' Socks, a catchy ode to his favourite pair of foot warmers. From a lyrical point of view, Malcolm hasn’t strayed too far from his previous band, Arab Strap. His songs mostly deal with dreary mundane reality, in a deep and murky voice. His music tends to play simple melodies over a drone on one of the instruments. The effect is comparable to bagpipe music, a comparison made more apt by the quintessential Scottishness of Malcolm’s casual self-deprecation and ‘f*** it’ attitude. As part of his backing band, lead guitar and fiddle came from a red haired girl named Jenny, who also sang vocals, her well-rounded voice accenting Malcolm’s choruses like a bright red highlighter pen.

After playing a rather slow and anti-climactic last song, in which he forgot the words at least once, Malcolm announced that he had got the set list wrong and that was a terrible song to end on. To make up for it they played a surprisingly rousing cover of Bryan Adams’ ‘Run to You’. Malcolm claimed Jenny had posters of Bryan on her wall. She denied the accusation.
Myke Hall

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Metric @ The Edge - HMV Picturehouse Edinburgh 25 Aug 2009

Metric are a glitzy band of the electro-rock persuasion, hailing from Toronto, Canada. While Canada for most people, conjures thoughts of Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne and Nickelback, those familiar with the Broken Social Scene, of which singer Emily Haines and lead guitarist James Shaw are active members, will be less surprised to find Metric as a product the maple leaf nation.

The band are three smart/cas rockers with production leanings fronted by an arty blonde chick in a glittering blue 60s dress short enough that the photographers could see her pants. Their live show had moments of hurtling energy, when they played their hits with vigour and excitement, and moments of pointless noodling. I think the band believed they were creating epic soundscapes and working the audience's emotions with some all-consuming electro vide. The reality was a mediocre riff repeated beyond the point of boredom and irritation, with a totally banterless Emily failing to improv with statements like: "What day is it?" (pause) "What day of the week is it?" (pause) "Tuesday?" (pause) "Is it Tuesday?" (pause) "What happens on Tuesday?" (pause) "What are you guys doing here on a Tuesday?" (pause) "Tuesday." (pause) "What do you do on a Tuesday?" (long pause) "Watch House?"

And of course, the always-classic mood killer "Who has work in the morning?” Thanks for that reminder, Haines!!

Emily did pull some dance moves that were smooth enough to keep the audience's eye, and played some synth parts that were cool enough to keep the audiences ear. And the backing, although partly digitalised and therefore cheating, was pretty tight.

Some highlights of the set were 'Dead Disco', a song which can only unleash its true potential live, so you can hear that guitar punch, the bass buzz and the snare snap. 'Stadium Love', a celebration of noise where Emily lists a bizarre animal battles ("spider vs bat", "owl vs dove"), and 'Help I'm Alive', the lead single from their most recent album, which mixes a slow groove and a guitar pulse with an art-pop melody.
Myke Hall

Sunday 27 September 2009

Andrew Bird and Emma Pollock @ The Edge - HMV Picturehouse Edinburgh 23 Aug 2009

Emma Pollock, former singer of The Delgados brought her particular brand of mellow indie rock to the HMV Picturehouse to a rather more adult, scattered crowd compared to the last night's performance from Amanda F***ing Palmer. Since her band's 2005 split she's only released one solo album. Nonetheless her set was fairly free of her ex-band's material. Backed by a full band and playing her guitar in a 60s dress, Emma Pollock's music is slightly plain and gets close to but never quite reaches the levels of her former band. The melodies just aren't strong enough and the backing just isn't interesting enough. Regardless, though, she has a strong following amongst the crowd and they were delighted to hear the music well executed with an element of grace.

On previous tours classically trained violinist Andrew Bird (pictured) has appeared on stage with a group of backing musicians to cover all the nuances of his rather complex string and guitar arrangements. On this occasion however, he appeared on his own, with an array of amps and, the arrangement-happy solo artist's best friend, a loop pedal. The tunes built up quite quickly. There are actually quite a lot of different sounds you can make on a violin: bowing, picking, strumming it like a guitar, using distortion, using an octave pedal. The large set of amps meant the little violin could cover a massive range of frequencies, but the coolest trick was when he hit a pedal that started two large gramophone speakers pointing opposite directions to start spinning at smoothie-blender speeds, twisting the sound they produced with the Doppler Effect. Actually, this was the only point in his set when he required another person on stage, as a wee roadie would come on after these songs to reset the spinning speakers.

The music tended to be middle-beat hipster tunes reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian or Simon and Garfunkel, and involved a lot of whistling. Andrew also had a dry sense of humour and a good rapport with the crowd. Watching him build his songs using nothing more than the littlest string instrument and some invisible device from some meaningless clicks to a tapestry of different sounds was entrancing and the audience stood perfectly still, mystified. They clapped loudly, then waited patiently for the next song: a performer’s dream crowd. Hard to say whether this was the effect of his performance, or merely the sort of people he attracts with his music. He did, however, take one request from the audience: to play a comedic song where he makes the violin sound like a mandolin, a lute, a guitar, etc. that he allegedly barely remembers.

Also, he had a glockenspiel on stage that he never played. What's that all about
Myke Hall

Saturday 19 September 2009

Amanda F'king Palmer and The Indelicates @ The Edge - HMV Picturehouse Edinburgh 22 Aug 2009

The Indelicates are a band of contradictions. The delicate, shy, sweet voice and piano playing of co-lead singer Julia Indelicate and the hard rocking, guitar slamming, obnoxious egomania of co-lead singer Simon Indelicate. The stringy, weedy arms of drummer Ed van Beinum despite the aggressive way he beats the kit. The guy should be built! And hearing them scream out the lyric "Godless america" while Simon plays an American guitar while wearing the United States flag for a jacket in a London accent so thick you'd think they were the cast of Oliver Twist.

Amanda had so many great stage antics that I wanna discuss I'm gonna keep the "critique" part of this review down to just three words to save space: gothic, cabaret, brilliant.

Amanda F***ing Palmer (as she prefers to be known) (Photo by Richard Dyson) came from behind the audience, descending the staircase in her baroque dress, following her horn section - Edinburgh's own Horndogs, and dancing like a burlesque rag doll, as they played the riff from Missed Me. The crowd parted as the convoy went in the side entrance and reappeared on stage, Amanda taking her place at the piano.

The Horndogs joined her for a few key songs, but she played a lot of the set on her own, including The Dresden Dolls classic Coin Operated Boy. Three quarters of the way through she starts jerking and repeating half a line like a stuck robot. She manages to replicate an identical movement a good twenty times before she's "fixed" and continues with the rest of the song.

Amanda also performed a reading of one of the stories from her photo and literature collaboration with dark fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, 'Who Killed Amanda Palmer?', and then invited Neil himself on stage to read one of the poems from the book, as she stared up from her piano at him, with the same wonder and excitement in her eyes as a child hearing a bedtime story, the same expression that was pasted all over the audience’s faces too.

Other memorable moments included the performance of Gaiman-penned song about Googling an ex, an unrehearsed duet with her sister, a furious cover of Relax and inviting The Indelicates (and then the Horndogs) back on stage to help perform recent hits Oasis and Leeds United (Amanda is clearly an anglophile) and an encore-closing show-stopping cover of Let The Sunshine In from 'Hair'.
Myke Hall

Tuesday 8 September 2009

News: Meursault Vs The Foundling Wheel Vs Dead Boy Robotics

Versus is a now bi-monthly gig where bands go head to head at Voodoo Rooms. Their second event takes place this Thursday 10th Sept. Three bands will play on the same stage at the same time; reformatting their songs, jamming together, making stuff up as they go along. The idea is that they will either all get along and start making beautiful music together, or it will become some crazy sonic conflict.

Versus is the baby of The Founding Wheel (AKA Ted Koterwas), but is now being co-presented by Limbo man David Cummings.

The performing acts thia time around are metal-dance kids Dead Boy Robotics, attention-grabbing folk-whiners Meursault and the inventor himself, electro banshee The Founding Wheel.

10 September 2009
The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Doors: 8pm. Price: £5

For more details see their website.
Myke Hall

Friday 4 September 2009

Frightened Rabbit and Meursault @ The Edge - Queens Hall Edinburgh 18 Aug 2009

The support act for the second Edge Fest Queens Hall show in as many days were Edinburgh rising stars Meursault; heralded by the scene as our current champions. Their sound was banjo and accordion type über-acoustic sounds mixed with electronic warmth and noise and backing tracks, as is the current Fence-collective inspired fashion in Scottish indie-folk. The large band, heralded though they are, failed to live up to their hype, not to mention to the status expected of a Queens Hall support act. With no banter, no personality, and a flavour of music that, in the pre-Arcade Fire landscape, may have been original and interesting, is just one voice in a crowd of similar bands. The vocals squawked somewhat irritatingly, and the well-placed (and well-played) cello was underused in favour of electronic bass sounds.

Frightened Rabbit have been off touring the States, and you really did feel their genuine joy from being back in the Capitol. It was like they were at a party with old friends they haven't seen in a long time. In some ways, this was true, Edinburgh was really glad to have them back. Opening with 'The Modern Leper', a tale of drunken fights on (presumably) Glaswegian streets, the band performed with an excitement through their epic indie ballads and Selkirk voiced knees up folk rock. Although the majority of their set was drawn from breakthough album 'Midnight Organ Fight', lead singer Scott Hutchison asked nicely if they could play some new tunes. It’s clear these songs are no longer being written with the intent of being played by Scott and his acoustic in a crowded pub, but to be performed by a full electric band rocking out on a large stage. Many of the songs went entirely without bass, with up to three delayed guitars chiming in sync. Others used modestly electronic keyboards.

The band also welcomed to the stage their guest accompaning guitarist; Ross Clark, of Ross Clark and The Scarves Go Missing. Who, incidently, are now going with the name Three Blind Wolves. Presumably to make it less of a solo act and more of a band. Perhaps Ross is getting shy of all the attention.

A highlight of the show was 'Backwards Walk', where the digital drums of the recorded version were replaced with the standard kit, splashing and snaring contently, which echoed noisily around the concert hall spelling out the words “live version” in capital letters.

For the encore Scott came onto stage with an unamplified acoustic, ignored the microphone, and yelled to the audience he wanted to try something he hadn’t done in a while. The entire audience joined in for a campfire-style rendition of ‘Poke’. Most of the audience, especially down the front, seemed to know all the words so he just let them sing most of it. It was hauntingly magic hearing thousands of Scots whisper the high-pitched “ooohs” in the chorus.
Myke Hall

Saturday 29 August 2009

Broken Records and My Latest Novel @ The Edge - Queens Hall Edinburgh 17 Aug 2009

My Latest Novelare now the first artist to be featured on twice, but I can safely say that their performance at a fast-filling Queens Hall theatre was quite different to their in-store performance at tiny Avalanche Records.

Nonetheless I'm going to use some similar words to describe them. The broad, sweeping melodies and vast soundscapes are rich in musical textures. The sound is loud and full, without crossing into "noisy". Always tuneful, despite some post-rock influence, especially in the oceanic crashing of the drums. The harmonies are beautiful, and the wistful fiddle and semi-acoustic guitar play nicely with the folk motif. The keyboards are pretty, and fill out the already blanketing sound, and the performance is measured and appropriate. A fine show that threatened to upstage the act they were opening for.

Listening to a Broken Records(pictured) tune is a roll of the die. The mix of acoustic and electric instruments allows them to float between Eastern European folk, Scottish indie, North American hoedown country; they were all over the map. It speaks well of the Edinburgh septet that they can convincingly land in a plethora of different genres and make themselves comfortable, never sounding out of place.

While they claimed to be excited to be playing a concert venue in their home town, it was difficult to spot the excitement from the members. Stage presence was not strong from them, but it could definitely be heard in their music. The cello throbbed and percussion slammed with a fervour rarely felt in acoustic music. The vocals yowled with desperation as they expressed songs of mournful reflection and all-consuming emotion.

Such a wide sound from such excellent musicians could have been taken one step further, with a set of beautiful harmonies, especially in the slower, ballad-style songs, where it seemed a bit unnecessary to have so many bodies filling up the expansive Queens Hall stage. Nonetheless, the band achieved a tightness during some complicated movements that probably requires classical training and the music succeeded in transcending its surroundings, plonking us in a barn filled with hysterical lovers, where every exit leads to a different continent.
Myke Hall

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Isa and the Filthy Tongues + vikisellotape DJ set @ The Bang Bang Club - Teviot Underground Edinburgh 8 Aug 2009

The Bang Bang Club is a late night music club running in one of Teviot House's dungeons as part of the Fringe. Rather than a support band, vikisellotape, of sellotape, brought us a great DJ set featuring synth pop and the darker side of new wave. For one of the songs the girl herself came down to the dancefloor, unashamedly dancing in an almost robotic fashion in a room full of knackered Fringe goers and 90s rockers to Gloria Jones' 'Tainted Love'. The entire room was transfixed on her subtle stepping movements and her goth meets two-tone outfit.

While Isa and the Filthy Tongues origin is in Edinburgh, their music certainly isn't. Their slick, smooth grunge is rooted in the Seattle sound with the sleek shroud of LA magic ("they like it with a lot of flash, but its still that same old back street rhythm that really really kicks 'em in the..."). The smooth but dark rock is comparable to the Breeders and Joy Division. The Oregon-born lead singer is a slightly less punky Courtney Love, and the backing band are well versed in making their instruments sound simultaneously noisy and controlled.

After an instrumental introduction, the singer arrives onstage, her blonde hair a contrast to the blackness of the rest of the bands clothes. The guitar riffs are showered in glittering chorus and reverb as the bass rattles along with punk bones.

Highlights of the set included the Stooges punk of 'Finders F***ckers' and the catchy pop-rock of 'Big Star'. Towards the end of their set, the band played their new single, 'New Town Killers': an anthemic gothic country track of Lydia Lunch-esque debauchery, the title taken from a Richard Jobson film of the same name.

The performance was rousing, despite it being the graveyard hour, and by the end of the set a good few of the bleary eyed punters were dancing to the beat.

Monday 24 August 2009

News: The Edge Festival Line-up updated

Continued from The Edge Festival Line-up announcement:

24 Aug 2009: Due to circumstances beyond his control, Ian Broudie's shows at Cabaret Voltaire, which were due to take place on Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th August, have had to be cancelled. Full refunds are available at point of purchase.

21 July 2009: The good news: Emma Pollock confirmed as support for Andrew Bird at The Picture House on the 23rd Aug. Also Carolina Liar added at Cab Vol on the 24th.
The bad news: Múm supported by My Latest Novel has been cancelled, a casualty of the Studio 24 close. Full refunds are offered at point of purchase or the tickets will also be valid for the Glasgow gig at Oran Mor on the 15th Aug.
In other news: Boys Noize added for City Nightclub on the 27th (what?), and the Edge present a whole series of small gigs at Sneaky Pete's over the course of the month. These won't be tracked on the calender, as there's too many of them, but all the other changes have been made on the calender.

19 June 2009: Four more acts announced, including new headliners. Legendary experimental rockers Faith No More (pictured) on the 25th and Scotland’s own Biffy Clyro on the 21st, both at the Corn Exchange, and The Juan MacLean and Frank Turner at Cabaret Voltaire on August 17th and 28th respectively. The calender has been updated accordingly.

6 July 2009: N-Dubz, Ian Broudie (of Lightning Seeds), Metric, Starsailor, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Dinosaur Pile Up, Metric, The Living End and Jefferey Lewis added to the festival. Emiliana Torrini cancelled. Due to Studio 24 losing their license and closing (again - sadface), all Studio 24 Gigs at The Edge have been moved to HMV Picture House. The calender has again been updated.

Friday 21 August 2009

David Byrne @ The Edge - Edinburgh Playhouse 8 Aug 2009

So, a live show from David Byrne. Between his solo stuff and and Talking Heads back catalogue, there's enough variety in music that you'd expect a big band. Although Byrne is the only guitar, there's bass, drums, and some additional percussion. He's not known for stunning vocals so much as innovative songwriting, so some back-up singers, check. The tour is called "Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno" so we're gonna have to have a really good keyboard player with all sorts of different sounds to replicate all of Eno's ingenuity. And Byrne is a little eccentric so lets figure he dressed them all in pure white (to match his hair). What else is there? Hmm.... how about three choreographed backing dancers that look like they're fresh out of 'Fame'?

As unexpected as this choice was, it definitely worked. Byrne was able to punctuate each song differently. Some were straight up jams with the band in full swing. Some had choreographed routines, crazy lights and projected backdrops. And it meant there was spare bodies around the stage when they needed people to play hand shakers or strum an acoustic guitar. The band used no amps (except for the bass) and only in-ear monitors meaning, like a musical, there was more space on the stage for the dancers to play with, and less stuff for them to trip over. David Byrne played the ringmaster in a circus of on-stage activity, putting the entertainment value high above other early 80s stars touring their back catalogue to the 35+ market.

The music played in the set is drawn only from David Byrne songs where Brain Eno was involved. So that's three Talking Heads albums, two David Byrne albums, and a handful of other tracks. The material ranged from ethereal cosmic jams, quirky pop tunes, heavily rhythmed world influenced indie and rocking new wave.

While usually the 57 year old from Dunbarton seemed in full control, even joining in with the dance routines sometimes, like when the dancers all came on with guitars that looked like his and danced in a diamond shape, there was one moment that betrayed the man's cool. You wouldn't expect a musician of his experience to struggle so much with a guitar that wasn't tuned properly. About 45 seconds passed as the band waited patiently and the heckles started. A helpful roadie came on offering a replacement guitar, he refused at first but gave in to the pressure. It was a distracting moment, and it shattered the illusion of perfect control he had created by a meticulously rehearsed and choreographed show. We saw the man behind the curtain.

As fans of his may expect, however, he made up for the blunder ten-fold. He deserved at least two of the three encores he played (which were really more like curtain calls, the amount of production that went into this Playhouse performance) and the crowd were delighted when he broke his "Byrne/Eno songs only" rule to play the Talking Heads classic Burning Down The House, while he and the band wore white skirts and tutus.*
Myke Hall
*Seriously, I have pictures if you don't believe me.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Mumford and Sons @ The Edge - Cabaret Voltaire Edinburgh 7 Aug 2009

Article originally published by, and property of The Daily Record:

Mumford & Sons
begin their The Edge festival set with all four members in front of the stage, singing a four part harmony over a repeating guitar and double bass riff on the song Sigh No More. As the song swells to a crescendo, more instruments are brought in; a warm piano-sounding Nord keyboard and an electric banjo. While the band lack a full-time drummer, lead singer Marcus Mumford has a small kick drum at his feet to keep time and add emphasis in the louder parts of their set, and at a few junctures either Marcus or one of his “Sons” will get behind the drum kit at the back of the stage (and of course there’s a microphone back there too, couldn’t do without those harmonies).

It makes sense that the London-based quartet have played support slots for the likes of Noah and the Whale and The Maccabees, as their acoustic-housed folk indie shares a lot of similarities with their city-mates. Their lyrics depict the wistful fantasy of the wind and the hills clashing with the reality of modern lifestyle. This seems to be mirrored in their music, as they occasionally bring in electric guitar or electric bass in an otherwise acoustic sounding set: at one point they even used a distortion pedal.

“Sorry for the self indulgent rock songs,” Mumford announces, in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner. “One day we’re going to realise we’re not a rock and roll band and go back to playing folk songs”. Self-deprecating as this statement is, he has a point; although it’s not the one he thinks he’s making. While some of their songs draw an influence from 50s rockabilly, such as Roll Away Your Stone, the bands best “rock out” moments are when all four are head-banging to an instrumental section, led by a banjo riff and powered by the solitary kick drum.

The set closes with the surprisingly dark, piano led Dust Bowl Dance, a confessional cowboy song Johnny Cash would’ve been proud of. A truly dramatic climax, spoiled only a little by their awkward confusion afterwards about whether they should come back on for an encore. “I’d forgot what Scotland was like”, Mumford declares, as they have to turn the house music back off because the crowd won’t leave without one more tune.
Myke Hall

Tuesday 18 August 2009

The Remnant Kings - Whistle Binkies Edinburgh 6 August 2009

Edinburgh four-piece The Remnant Kings played a sweaty Whistle Binkies on the eve of the first day of the Edinburgh Festival. Opening their set with fan favourite 'Ketamine Kiss,' the band played to a handful of hardcore sing-along fans and a slightly indifferent festival crowd. The Remnant Kings make solid, catchy rock tunes with a pop side. Great hooks, upbeat choruses, smart, sometimes snarky lyrics and jangly guitar punctuate their funky indie sound. Standout tune 'George Street,' whose snide chorus "I'm going to be a footballer's wife on George Street" reveals the band's attitude toward the infamous Edinburgh party spot, added a fun bit of locals-only humour to the set. Lead vocalist Rich's earnest, stirring vocals lend the band a distinctly soulful sound, while bluesy guitars, crashing drums, and harmonies characterize the band's tunes.

Despite the apathy of most of the crowd, the band put on an impressive stage show. Frontman Rich leapt about the stage clutching his mic stand fervently, and guitarist Andrew engaged in some rather dramatic showmanship, strumming his guitar above and behind his head at the end of the band's set. This is a band at their best on stage, not to be missed live.

Danielle Mattison

Sunday 16 August 2009

Not Squares, Dead Boy Robotics and Found - Sneaky Pete's Edinburgh 24 July 2009

Article originally published on Is This Music?, and is therefore their copyrighted material:

The night of electronic splendours began with Belfast-based Madchester-inspired three-piece Not Squares. It’s music not 100 miles away from what you might hear in the background of an early 90s video game. The two standing band members face each other over a deck of synthesisers, effects units, and some more gadgets that seemed as if they’d be more at home in a radio repair shop, and between them the drummer rattles the high-hat. Occasionally they chime in with some reverby indistinguishable vocals; all three members sing. Their cries echo like distant battle cries of warriors in the next valley. Maybe it’s the association with video games but the music conjures up images of vast landscapes and fantastic scenarios. In the catchier tunes, the keyboard players pick up electric bass guitars – one with a deep, rich, warmth, and the other more trebly and woody, so its higher riffs are audible over the top over the deeper basslines

The trend of two synth players facing each other was continued with fresh-faced Edinburgh duo Dead Boy Robotics. Their name is very fitting. It combines the electronic gadgetry of their synthesisers and laptop samples with the noisy guitars and metal screaming vocals, that both indulge in. The first song sees them playing guitar and bass, but as the band declare after a technical hitch “since we don’t know how to work guitars, this next one doesn’t have any”. Through the course of the set we see them play guitar and bass, their synths, or hammer aggressively on a pair of floor toms, all to backing tracks of beats and noises piped out of the laptop in the corner. The mood is much more serious than Not Squares, with a gloomy gothic moodiness hanging over their electro beats. The band themselves, seem to be a lot happier than their music, joking with each other between songs. While they may be young blood, their recent invitation to play on the T Break stage at T in the Park shows they are the new masters of the digital realm.

Headliners of the night were FOUND (pictured), who are quite the novelty themselves. Combining folk sing-a-longs with beats and beeps, the five piece are on Fence Records, the record label version of the famous Fifian Fence Collective, and represented Scotland at this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. However, only three of the five attended the evening’s festivities, doing their rather distinctive interpretation of a stripped-down set. The lead singer, Ziggy, played an electric guitar, backed by two other members who punctuated the songs with hand percussion, sample workstations, electric bass guitar and even a Game Boy. The songs themselves have a strong rural melody that feels like it should be backed by harps and violins. Instead, orchestra hits, 80s loops and distorted guitar riffs undercurrent the songs, creating tension, agitation and above all uniqueness. As the band were proud to admit, they’re Edinburgh natives too, and although the oddity of the group, especially in the incomplete form, may have been lost on much of the audience, they also put smiles on the faces of those of us who seek originality done well.
Myke Hall

Friday 7 August 2009

News: Edinburgh MELA Festival 2009

'Mela' is actually the Sanskrit word for gathering. Its the word used on the Indian subcontinent for, what we would call, a country fair. A Mela in this country is both a subcontinent style country fair and a celebration of cultural diversity. The Edinburgh Mela, an annual event founded in 1995, is taking place at Pilrig Park this year from Friday 7th Aug to Sunday 9th Aug. There's music, dance, other performances, food, crafts and workshops.

Here's some details from Mela Director Liam Sinclair; “This year’s Edinburgh Mela promises a host of new performances. We have an even bigger big top which has increased the scope for performers and audiences. Once again we have acts coming to perform from overseas, but also performers who are UK-based but whose roots lie elsewhere. This year there are also a number of performances and artists that are working cross-culturally, often with exciting and surprising results.

“Among these is Yatra who are back with a performance that builds on their world premiere last year with the addition of a dance element provided by South Asian classical dancers from Dance-Ihayami and a film element by Krish Shrikumar. This performance is supported by the Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Fund in celebration of Homecoming 2009.

“Finally, the Mela will end on Sunday in true Scottish style with a jam session and ceilidh as musicians from a number of groups attending bring the festival to an exciting close.”

Also, this year, they've got BBC Asian Network involved, and they'll be broadcasting live from the site. You can find the full programme on the Mela site.
Myke Hall

Thursday 6 August 2009