Today, two very different acts although both are based in Glasgow and feature singers with emotive, sometimes throat-wrenching voices: one rasping, one quavery.
First up, The Bar Dogs (rasping), who last month released a double A-side single: Pearl and Running that impressed the hell out of me with Pearl being the pick of the pair.
The Bar Dogs are still in their infancy, more pups than dogs really, but have already supported The View at a sold-out Glasgow O2 Academy at the tail-end of last year (View bassist Kieran Webster supplied some backing vocals on Running incidentally) and the band look set to rapidly establish themselves as one of the city’s most exciting live acts in 2016.
The search query ‘Bar Dogs Glasgow’ does tend to throw up mostly suggestions about dog friendly Glasgow boozers although Gigslutz and Tenement TV have pieces on the band, whose current line-up consists of: John Gerrard O’Neill (vocals), Tino MacDonald (lead guitar and vocals), John McArthur (guitar), Michael Gahagan (drums), Scott Duncan McPherson (bass) and Robbie Noble (keys), Tino and Michael both previously being members of The Velveteen Saints.
As well as writing fabulous songs, The Bar Dogs also make their own impressive DIY videos, and for Pearl they filmed in the Grand Old Opry – the one on Govan Road in Glasgow that is, a venue that I have visited once myself but to see a play I feel I have to explain, rather than for any line dancing or fast-draw competition.
Also newly released is At Hope’s Ravine by Holy Esque (quavery), a four-piece outfit that have been much hyped in Scotland in recent months.
They’ll be representing Scotland shortly in Austin, Texas for the latest SXSW and, last week, the band performed a session for Vic Galloway’s Radio Scotland show, where they even managed to record a version of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love which met with just about my full approval. No mean feat believe me.
Holy Esque are a difficult act to describe but if you’re familiar with ’60s act Family, think a cross between Roger Chapman and Feargal Sharkey singing with a unjustly forgotten post-punk band that were occasionally compared to Echo and The Bunnymen. Jim Kerr is a fan and maybe there is a teensy wee bit of mid ’80s Simple Minds in the band’s DNA but, dare I say, even more early U2.
As for the album, well it easily lives up to the hype and has to be an early contender for this year’s SAY Award. Every one of the eleven tracks is pretty much top-flight although Doll House maybe edges it as my favourite. Shot through with a gorgeous fragility and with dreamy, shimmering guitars, Pat Hynes sounds truly heartbroken throughout.
To see the guys perform perform three tracks including Doll House for Tenement TV live at St Luke’s in Glasgow click here.
From At Hope’s Ravine, this is Tear: