Monday, 28 February 2011

Ginger Music - Maggies Chamber Edinburgh 11 Feb 2011

Ginger Music Promotions has been gathering real momentum over the last few months, and on the 11th of February kicked off a residency at similarly up-and-coming venue Maggies Chamber with local songsmith Steve Heron; naturally, was in attendance. Before the first act had even taken to the stage, a considerable crowd had built up, and the stage was set for a strong opening night for Ginger.

Openers The Shenanigans (photo by Towserout Photography) kicked things off with their spiky indie pop. As far as the songs went, they delivered more or less the usual jangling acoustic guitar-driven "verse-chorus-solo" fare, complete with lyrics about girls and getting wasted; so far, so harmless. Of course, this style, however done to death it may be, always has its high points. In this instance, when The Shenanigans aimed more for Oasis and less for the Kooks they ended up coming out with a couple of pleasant ballads that were definitely the highlights of a set that was otherwise little more than a fun wee appetizer. The Shenanigans do, however, get points for sheer confidence, and brought along an impressive crowd. For those who are into that sort of thing, their new EP will be out soon.

The Last Knights followed up with a different colour from the same spectrum, with their pleasantly diverting pop drawing from a distinctly more American sound than The Shenanigans. The band originated as a pub covers band, and there was a certain shyness as they took to the stage, but they got it together surprisingly quickly, and cruised calmly through their set. Their songs featured melodies with elements of pop-punk, but the overall sound was delivered in a mainstream pop rock fashion; not anything totally new, but inoffensive and certainly crowd pleasing.

Main support act Sebastian Dangerfield were a man short for their set, with vocalist/guitarist/banjoist Dave Thompson away in New York, and were joined by his brother, Adam Thompson of We Were Promised Jetpacks, for a dependably solid set. Although Sebastian Dangerfield's ascent has been somewhat slower than the impressive breakthrough of Jetpacks, they have always remained true to their softer, country-tinged sound; always yielding moments of real beauty, and gorgeous songs like ‘The Sycamore Tree’, which is available on their MySpace. Though often softly spoken and understated, the band have a Wilco-like sensitivity and grasp of dynamics that makes them a real pleasure as a live act, fuelling mature songwriting with great musicianship. Their new EP is in the works.

Finally, Steve Heron modestly took to the stage. Heron's appeal, for me, has always lied with his image as a reassuringly down-to-earth, unglamorous bloke, and this has always come through in his quirky brand of indie rock; straightforward, driving and distinctly British rock in the vein of artists like The Jam and Dr Feelgood, with confrontational lyrics delivered in a way that brings Morrissey, Cursive's Tim Kasher and yes, Weller, to mind. The tunes themselves are generally as good as that sounds, with some fantastic hooks prevalent throughout, aided by the tightness of Heron's rhythm section. ‘Lie To You’ was an early highlight of the set, a studio version of which is available on Heron's Soundcloud along with numerous others. Impressively, however, the best songs of the set were all from Heron's upcoming new EP ‘Domino Mask’, which is definitely something to be excited about; ‘Marionette’ was without doubt the best song in the set. Creative drumming and some of his catchiest hooks to date were prevalent, giving the impression that Heron's best is still yet to come.

Stewart McLachlan

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Promo: Open Til Midnight Season 2

Starting 16 February 2011, Open Til Midnight is back on the internet radio. Tune in every Wednesday from 22.30 til 23.30 (well, it's almost midnight!) on to hear Myke and Danielle chat about movies and music.

But as well as the usual film banter, Open Til Midnight will be bringing you some new features, including a 'Track of The Week' chosen by The track will represent some of the finest music Edinburgh has to offer, it will be played live on Open Til Midnight, and will be available to listen to all week on the homepage.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

VM1 - Verse Metrics

Glasgow four-piece Verse Metrics don't waste any time. Their first gig was less than a year ago, and yet here I am sitting listening to 'VM1', their confidently presented debut EP, looking at a tightly designed, and straight-to-the-point website with a whole host of glowing media reviews that drop names like Biffy Clyro and Mogwai. Well played, sirs.

Of course, knowing how to market yourself is only half the battle, so on to the music. 'VM1' is nothing I haven't heard before- its sound has been in circulation for some time and is arguably beginning to define the Scottish "alternative rock" scene; Horoscopes features stuttering drums, melancholy, chiming chords, soft vocals and yes, a xylophone, before building up to a climax and letting itself back down, before doing it again. On paper it's a formula I hear all the time. In practice, the results are admittedly pretty. In fact, they are quite beautiful. That is what grabs me about Verse Metrics: they're doing what a lot of bands are doing, but they're doing it well enough to be better than most of them. The musical maturity and dark Interpol-esque tension in songs like lead track Tired Lights hold a certain promise. It feels like the work of a band focused on the long-term rather than some scenesters jumping on yet another bandwagon. The relatively hyperactive Fractions features clattery, dissonant chords without descending into any tech-for-the-sake-of-tech math-rock attempts, showing some reassuring versatility in the band's dynamic range. Husker then brings the overall mood down into a defeated-sounding, gloomy waltz, with Sad Bones providing a pulsing, almost euphoric finale (I have a funny feeling it's about drowning yourself and the world not really caring, but I'll still say it's euphoric. On second thought, it's quite depressing). The overall result is a complete-feeling, focused EP that demonstrates a band with a whole load of real potential. Whether or not Verse Metrics disappear with changing trends is something only time will tell, but 'VM1' hints at a band that are here to stay.

Stewart McLachlan