Glastonbury 2015

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To a lot of us Phun City and Glastonbury Fair a year later, were glimpses of the future. Glimpses of a community sharing possessions, living with the environment, maintaining their culture and whatever is naturally available, consuming their needs and little else. It was a powerful vision.

Mick Farren: Watch Out Kids (1972)

I’m guessing that there will be a lot of idealists packing their organic hemp backpacks and preparing for yet another Glastonbury as I type. Some might even remember the first festival where the entrance fee was a pound (including a free carton of fresh milk) and T.Rex topped the bill just a month before the release of Ride a White Swan.

I’m also guessing that there will be many, many more revellers with next to no interest in living with the environment and consuming their needs and little else and whose main reason to attend will be the chance to sing along to the chorus of Gold Digger when Kanye West takes to the stage or maybe catch a glimpse of some celeb like Wayne Rooney or Kate Moss. When the party ends this lot will depart happily leaving sleeping bags, tents and a mountain of rubbish behind for someone else to deal with.

As I’ve mentioned before, although I have been to a number of festivals over the years, I’m a small venue type of guy who likes seeing the whites of a singer’s eyes. On Saturday, for instance, I’m heading into McChuill’s in Glasgow where Ali McKenzie and the Band of 1000 Dances will be playing a set – incidentally, this Ali is the former singer with Ronnie Wood’s old band The Birds and not to be confused with the Subs/Shakin’ Pyramids drummer Ali MacKenzie.

Wearing a court jester hat, queuing up for the chance to be charged a fiver for a bacon roll and having my view of the stage obstructed by some eejit waving around a crap flag aren’t too high on my to do list.

Oh, and while I’m at it, when I am desperate for some badly needed shuteye I don’t want some neighbouring trustafarian tapping on his bongo drums outside my tent for hours on end either. This did once happen to me and the said trustafarian asked me the next morning if I’d enjoyed the vibes he had created.

Saying that, this year’s Glastonbury line-up, as always, has a fair number of acts that do appeal to me. And if I had shelled out over two hundred quid for a ticket one of the performances that I would most like to take in would be FFS, or Franz Ferdinand and Sparks if you prefer.

They might have jointly penned a track called Collaborations Don’t Work that but their recently released album is on the whole a very enjoyable listen. From it, here’s Johnny Delusional:


Also playing over the weekend will be Tuff Love, Sleaford Mods, Buzzcocks, The Pop Group, Patti Smith, Lonelady, The Fall, Slaves, Belle and Sebastian, Alvvays, Paul Weller, Django Django, Courtney Barnett, The Waterboys and Fat White Family. And, of course, Glastonbury isn’t just about music and this year features everything from Puppet theatre and a screening of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to a Northern Soul Party with Eddie Piller and anti bullying workshops, to name only four events scattered across the site.

Jim Lambie Linden cover
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Also on Saturday I’m gonna be making the short trek from McChuill’s to Mono, where hopefully I can finally get my paws on a copy of the new album, Rest & Be Thankful, from one of the country’s most consistently fine yet underrated songwriters, Joe McAlinden, formerly of Superstar, who now seems to be styling himself and his band as _Linden.

Here’s the title track:


For more on Glastonbury, click here.

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The Sound Of The Future

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7x7-1977

DONNA SUMMER: I FEEL LOVE (GTO)

Over the weekend I’ve been listening to Déjà Vu, the seventeenth album by Giovanni Giorgio who everybody calls Giorgio (Moroder).

Packed with collaborations with the likes of Kylie, Kelis and Charli XCX, sadly the bulk of his first album in 30 years sounds suspiciously close to the kind of generic EDM that stations like Clyde 1 seem to specialise in playing at every available opportunity although I did rather enjoy a couple of tracks that recall his seventies heyday, 74 Is the New 24 and La Disco both channelling at times Chase from his masterful Midnight Express OST.

Moroder also repeatedly employs slick and shimmery guitar riffs similar to the one used to frankly better effect on Get Lucky from the album Random Access Memories, which of course featured Giorgio by Moroder. Nowadays Daft Punk, it would have to be said, do a better Moroder than the man himself.

Certainly by his own standards, Déjà Vu has more lows than highs, with its nadir being an utterly pointless version of Tom’s Diner with vocals supplied by Britney Spears which is every bit as awful as you might guess that combination would end up sounding.

Needless to say, none of the acts drafted in by the septuagenarian remotely match his best production work with the American singer named LaDonna Adrian Gaines who moved to Europe from the States at the tail end of the sixties for a small role in hippie dippy musical Hair and who Moroder came across in his adopted hometown of Munich. Yep, Donna Summer.

Written by Summer along with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Belotte, Donna Summer’s finest moment was undoubtedly I Feel Love, a British number one single for four weeks in the long hot summer of ’77, taking over the pole position in a chart that also included The Sex Pistols (Pretty Vacant), Bob Marley and the Wailers (Exodus) and the Stranglers (Peaches).

An erotic electro disco classic, I Feel Love, was conceived for what Moroder termed the ‘future’ segment of Summer’s I Remember Yesterday album and at the time with its trancelike, pulsing beat and lack of what at the time could be described as a single conventional instrument, it did indeed sound like the future; a future that wasn’t coming along any time soon.

Or maybe even one that was due to arrive from another planet.

Ooh, it’s is so good, it’s so good, it’s so good, it’s so good, it’s so good.

Actually, it’s much better than that. Here is I Feel Love, a track that American critic Nelson George laughably claimed was ’perfect for folks with no sense of rhythm’.

 
For more on Giorgio Moroder, click here.

Independent Scotland #6

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EH

 

The Moondials: Can You See? (Electric Honey 1995)

When people talk about great Scottish independent labels they tend to forget Electric Honey, run initially from Glasgow’s Stow College and now, after a merger between Stow, John Wheatley and North Glasgow College in 2013, what has been renamed Glasgow Kelvin College.

I’ve never been fully convinced by arguments for musicians and people wanting to break into the music industry needing to study their chosen subjects at any further education establishment.

Tony Wilson didn’t spend years taking advice from tutors on how to run a record label and neither did Bob Last, Alan Horne or Alan McGee. Likewise, you could say that The Beatles studied in the Star Club in Hamburg and the Cavern in Liverpool, The Ramones at CBGB, while Morrissey worked out his vision while unemployed and living in a Whalley Range bedsit.

Obviously though, a high percentage of the Music Business Administration students helping to run Stow/Kelvin’s in-house label over the years must have been doing something right – or I wouldn’t be writing about it, would I? – and they have been aided in that time by some inspired choices of lecturers to help them out, including former Associate Alan Rankine, who left his post there in 2010, Ken McCluskey of The Bluebells, who has been part of Glasgow’s thriving music scene since the days of Postcard and Douglas MacIntyre, the man who founded one of Scotland’s finest ever independents, Creeping Bent – a label I’ll be including in this series at soon point in the near future.

Over the last twenty or so years, Electric Honey really has achieved a highly impressive strike rate in releasing and promoting new acts such as Belle and Sebastian, Snow Patrol and Biffy Clyro, which has led to Uncut magazine declaring it: ’The most successful student-run label in the world’.

Of course, not all the acts they’ve released have gone on to headline the Hydro, sell over ten millions of records worldwide or headline a major festival like Reading. The Moondials, who I featured here a few weeks back, split up not too long after the label put out an EP by them with four almost equally strong tracks: Can You See?, Take Me Away, The Only One and Faker.

They certainly had a shedload of great songs and, helped by busking and playing guerrilla gigs across Europe, they sharpened up their sound and were always fantastic live whenever I would see them at venues like the Halt and King Tut’s in Glasgow. The Moondials also received a lot support from Radio Scotland, local magazines like The List and they appeared on STV’s afternoon pop show of the time called Chart Bite.

So why did The Moondials not go onto bigger things?

Maybe one reason was that in the era of Britpop, union jacks and Cool Britannia, the band embraced a country/blues sound influenced mainly by American acts from Arlo Guthrie through to The Monkees, The Byrds and Love.

See what you think, produced by Alan Rankine, this is the Electric Honey release of 1995, Can You See?:


The seventh annual Electric Honey Showcase will take place this year at Glasgow’s Oran Mor as part of the West End Festival on 26 June. On the bill are Harry and the Hendersons, Schnarff Schnarff, Finn Lemarinel and Apache Sun.

Tickets, which only cost £5, will be available on the door and I will try to make it along myself as I would especially like to see Apache Sun live, after becoming a fan of theirs the moment I first heard the twangy guitar fusing with the glitterbeat intro on The Rain That Never Came:


For more on Electric Honey, click here.

For more on The Moondials, click here.

And for more on Apache Sun, here’s yer link.

Strange Thoughts on Sunday: An Interview with David Barr of The Moon Kids

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The Moon Kids - Image: Adrian Lambert

The Moon Kids – Image: Adrian Lambert

Around this time last year in a post that featured The Skids, I mentioned that if I had to choose a band to represent the sound of Young Dunfermline today I’d go for The Moon Kids, who like to describe their melodic and timeless indie sound as ’fairground pop’.

Since then the band have packed out the T Break stage at last year’s T in the Park, appeared on BBC Alba’s Rapal and they’ve also been snapped up by new London based label Block 18 Records, who have just released their new single Strange Thoughts on Sunday, which The Moon Kids launched last Friday at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh.

They have also just recorded a session for Janice Forsyth’s BBC Radio Scotland show, which can be heard online here in Britain for the next three and a half weeks.

This band is definitely going places and so I was delighted when frontman David Barr agreed to talk with For Malcontents Only.

But first, from their debut EP, this is the thoroughly wonderful Luna Park:


How would you describe fairground pop?

For me, there’s something very intense about fairgrounds – that combination of bright lights, pumping sound systems and machinery that has the power to catapult you 30ft into the air or spin you round so fast you forget who you are. They are designed for just one reason – to sell thrills. So there’s a lot of very upbeat energy around them. But there’s also a darker, edgier side too. I don’t just mean the stuff that’s going on in the shadows behind the waltzer or the whip, there’s something deeper than that going on. Maybe it’s the vacuum that’s created once all the thrillseekers have gone home, the machines have been locked up and the lights are switched off, once it’s dark and deserted. Suddenly that place, that was all laughs and thrills and energy just a few hours before, becomes very introspective and desolate. We want our music to capture both sides of that – the thrills and that darker edge. For me, the whole fairground thing is a great metaphor for the way life is – one minute you’re out with friends, you’re putting on a show and it’s a thrill a minute then, later, away from the bright lights and the energy, once the door slams shut and you’re alone with your thoughts wondering about the meaning of it all. Great pop music – whether it’s Anarchy In The UK or Suedehead or Live Forever – should always reflect real life so the whole fairground pop idea makes perfect sense to me from that perspective.

How did The Moon Kids form?

Originally we were all doing different things – I was writing songs and rehearsing with various line-ups, while Rory was in Sergeant, touring with Oasis and recording an album with Public Image/Stone Roses producer John Leckie. The two of us got together and began working on songs. Rollercoaster People, the opening track on The Moon Kids EP, was the very first thing we did together. Everyone else piled in a bit later.

Which acts have influenced the band?

Too many to mention but any list has to start with The Beatles and The Sex Pistols, Lee Mavers and The La’s, The Smiths, Blur, Teardrop Explodes, The Veils and, of course, Echo & The Bunnymen. We’re big fans of Tame Impala, Wild Beasts and Dutch Uncles too. I guess, because we’re from Scotland, it’s hard not to be influenced by all the amazing music that surrounded us growing up – everything from the Jesus & Mary Chain and Primal Scream to Orange Juice and Aztec Camera. I don’t think we sound anything like them, but two acts that also had an impact are, obviously, our hometown legends The Skids and a band that didn’t ever get the credit they deserved, The Grim Northern Social, who built a massive following across central Scotland. They had a really unique sound and a real punk-rock, independent ethic. I guess, from them, I learned that it’s important to do your own thing and go your own way. Even now, if you meet someone who has that GNS album, it’s like an instant bond. They were Scotland’s modern-day version of the Velvet Underground.

I hear Richard Jobson is a Moon Kids fan, which must be pleasing for you since you rate The Skids so highly.

Richard is, for me, one of the greatest frontmen of all time. Growing up, I’d go to see Dunfermline Athletic at East End Park and, as the team ran onto the pitch, Into The Valley would blast out of the PA. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my heart start racing. The Skids, for me, were absolutely what it meant to be new wave. The Scared To Dance album – which was a huge influence on Joy Division and U2 – is so atmospheric and experimental but it’s packed with energy and attitude. If that record was released today, people would lose their minds over it. Richard has said some really nice things about us and, coming from him, it really means a lot. He’s one in a million.

When can we expect an album from you?

A bit further down the track. The band is still in its early stages so we’re just getting warmed up. I think every band wants to release one of those albums like Radiohead’s OK Computer or Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures that creates its own space and stands the test of time.

What would you say had been the highlight of your career so far?

Playing at T In The Park, in front of a hometown festival crowd, was a landmark achievement for us but there have been so many incredible moments it’s hard to pick just one. Discovering that, from 18,000 entries, our song Luna Park had made it to the last stages of an international songwriting competition was pretty special. Then the judging panel – including Tom Waits, Run DMC and London Grammar – loved it enough to vote us into the final selection. That was incredible. Most of all, just writing songs and hearing the band play them through for the first time is magical. Right now, though, I’m buzzing because our new single Strange Thoughts On Sunday has just been added to XFM’s Top Tunes Of All Time playlist on Spotify, alongside The Clash’s Janie Jones, The Who’s Magic Bus and Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life. It doesn’t get better than that.

Moon Kids King Tut's
 
Do you have an ambition for the band in 2015?

At last an easy one! The ambition for this year is just to make great records, play great gigs and grow as a band. It’s all about pushing forward and writing songs that connect at a deeper level.

Any new bands you would like to recommend?

I’m a massive Dutch Uncles fan – though since they’ve just released their fourth album, you probably wouldn’t class them as being that new. In terms of Scotland, we’ve played with Neon Waltz a couple of times and I think they are one of the most exciting bands around at the moment. White are creating a real buzz too. Though they’ve split up now, I’d recommend The Amazing Snakeheads album to anyone who’ll listen.

Yeah I would too. Amphetamine Ballads was my album of 2014. And I must feature Neon Waltz sometime soon on here. They’re another band to watch.

And some quick-fire questions:

What was the first-ever concert you went to?

T In The Park. First year at Balado. I was so young I had to sit on my dad’s shoulders to watch Stereophonics, Paul Weller and The Charlatans.

Favourite album?

Ouch! That’s a hard one. See any of the above, but probably The La’s. It’s just packed with amazing songs.

Favourite film?

The Warriors. Walter Hill’s 1979 updated take on Homer’s Odyssey. With gangs. And funfairs…

Favourite amusement park/carnival ride?

Probably Justin Codona’s Starchaser waltzer.

Best of luck with the single David and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

And here is that single Strange Thoughts on Sunday:


For more on The Moon Kids:

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