The BAMS 2015

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BAMS 2015

It’s been that time of the year again when I put my feet up, grab a bunch of CDs, stick on my headphones, treat myself to a glass or two of Bamgria and work out my top ten albums of the last twelve months for the BAMS (Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites), an award run by Mike (Manic Pop Thrills), Neil (Scottish Fiction), Jamie (Netsounds Unsigned), Al (Houdidont), Stuart (Is This Music?) and Lloyd (Honorary Head BAM).

In the end and after much thought (and tonic wine) Kathryn Joseph’s bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled headed my list, just edging out John Foxx’s completely under-rated ambient masterpiece London Overgrown, which in turn just edged out Infinite Variety by The Cathode Ray.

Here is my full top ten. In reverse order of course.

10. The Fall: Sub-Lingual Tablet
9. Wire: Wire
8. Dot Dash: Earthquakes & Tidal Waves
7. C Duncan: Architect
6. Lonelady: Hinterland
5. Blur: The Magic Whip
4. _Linden: Rest and be Thankful
3. The Cathode Ray: Infinite Variety
2. John Foxx: London Overgrown
1. Kathryn Joseph: bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled

Seeing Kathryn Joseph accept the SAY (Scottish Artist of the Year) Award at the O2 ABC in Glasgow back in June (as I predicted she would) was a highlight of 2015. But could she make it a double victory and bag the famous BAMS prize of a bottle of Buckfast?

Again, here is the BAMS top ten in reverse order.

10. Public Service Broadcasting: The Race For Space
9. Wolf Alice: My Love Is Cool
8. Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
7. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly
6. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell
5. Chrvches: Open Every Eye
4. Young Fathers: White Men Are Black Men
3. C Duncan: Architect
2. Miaoux Miaoux: School Of Velocity
1. Kathryn Joseph: bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled

Kathryn Joseph BAMS 2015

Well done to Kathryn and pleasing to see that Infinite Variety put up a decent showing, finishing joint twentieth on the list. From the album here is This Force of Nature:


For more on Kathryn Joseph, click here.

For more on The Cathode Ray, here’s yer link.

Pedestrian At Best? (Best of 2015, Part Two)

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According to NME this has been a bumper year for brilliant albums but if you believe that then you probably also think that it’s been a brilliant year for NME. Nope, 2015 has been a mediocre (or should I say pedestrian?) year at best and I doubt that in decades to come many will argue with this assessment.

Put it this way, The Rezillos released their first album in 1978, a year that also saw these albums come out (and this is virtually off the top of my head):

Elvis Costello: This Year’s Model
Brian Eno: Ambient 1: Music For Airports
The Jam: All Mod Cons
Bob Marley: Kaya
The Clash: Give ’Em Enough Rope
Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings & Food
Kate Bush: The Kick Inside
Siouxsie and The Banshees: The Scream
Buzzcocks: Another Music In A Different Kitchen & Love Bites
Kraftwerk: Man Machine
Magazine: Real Life
The Stranglers: Black & White
Giorgio Moroder: Midnight Express OST
PiL: First Edition
The Rolling Stones: Some Girls
Wire:  Chairs Missing
Blondie: Parallel Lines

All these years later and The Rezillos finally put out their outrageously belated second studio album Zero which, to digress, I liked a lot even though I felt it was overproduced at times and preferred the session the band recorded for Billy Sloan, back when Billy worked at Radio Clyde. Anyway, how many folk would claim that as many albums of the standard of that 1978 list have appeared in 2015?

Still, much good stuff has been released from January onwards, when I came out with the music blogger cliché that a track heard when the average person is still recovering from some festive season overindulgence might still be my favourite at the year’s end but I still absolutely adore Brown Eyes by The New Southern Electrikk (who now seem to be The New Southern Electric), although If I had to name a favourite, Kathryn Joseph’s The Bird might just edge it out.

Here’s the second instalment of my favourites:

The Rezillos: Tiny Boy From Outer Space
Thee Oh Sees: Web
Port Sulphur: Fast Boys & Factory Girls
C Duncan: Here to There

The New Southern Electrikk: Brown Eyes
Kathryn Joseph: The Bird
Courtney Barnett: Pedestrian At Best

Blur: Go Out
Belle and Sebastian: Enter Sylvia Plath
The Moon Kids: Ice Cream

For more on C Duncan click here.

For more on Courtney Barnett click here.

The Moon Kids play King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow tonight. For more on the band click here.

Architect & The Bird


C Duncan and Kathryn Joseph

Over the past few months I’ve heard a few folk making the claim that Scottish music is more vibrant and diverse than ever before; a current ad for Vic Galloway’s radio show says something along these lines, while the blog Radical Independent Music recently ran an article asking ’Has Scottish Indie Music Ever Been In Ruder Health?’ 

Now, almost inevitably being in my late teens when Simple Minds, Orange Juice, Josef K, Scars, The Associates, Fire Engines, Aztec Camera and others emerged in the late seventies and early eighties, I will likely always think of this being the best era for new Scottish music.

Saying that, there is undoubtedly a more diverse range of acts on offer in Scotland today, many that I have featured over the last year or so: Young Fathers, The Sexual Objects, Honeyblood, _Linden, Natalie Pryce, The Moon Kids, The Cathode Ray, Port Sulphur and Lola In Slacks as well as the two acts I cover below, C Duncan and Kathryn Joseph.

This is undoubtedly an eclectic and very talented bunch and I could add a couple of folkies or even some shiny synthpop and electronica acts and reggae sound system Mungo’s Hi Fi for good measure to better demonstrate the spectrum of what is happening across the country.

C Duncan, if you don’t know, is a Glaswegian whose recently released album Architect certainly sounds more Laurel Canyon than Castlemilk or Kinning Park. Released on Fat Cat, Architect is a meticulously crafted piece of work which C (or Chris if you prefer) wrote himself and recorded entirely in his bedroom, playing every note of music on each of the twelve tracks. He also designed the cover artwork and spent several days at a record manufacturing plant helping to press vinyl copies of the album.

Okay, I did make up that last part.

This is music to daydream to with Fleet Foxes being the obvious influence but think also Talk Talk, The Beach Boys, sunshine psychedelia and even French Impressionist composers such as Ravel and Debussy. Chris incidentally has a classical background, having studied at what is now rather pretentiously known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland although it might still have been the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama when he was a student there.

Everything seems to be moving in a positive direction for Chris. Architect was named an album of the day on BBC 6 Music, where he recorded a session for Lauren Laverne; together with his live band he has recently supported Belle and Sebastian at Somerset House in London, made an acclaimed appearance at Latitude and sold out a show at Glasgow’s CCA.

From the album this is Garden:

Architect will be a major contender for next year’s SAY Award, believe me – and I did tip Young Fathers and Kathryn Joseph to win the last two awards, so I might just know what I’m talking about. For a change.

Kathryn Joseph is, I think, the finest Scottish female vocalist to emerge since Elizabeth Fraser, or in the words of one listener to Marc Riley’s 6 Music show earlier in the week (which showcased a session from Kathryn and musical partner Marcus Mackay), she is ‘Dolly Parton’s younger, gothy sister.’

See what you think, from her album bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled, this is the stunning new video created by Scottish Ballet and shot in sunny Irvine for her new single The Bird:

For more on C Duncan, click here and for more on Kathryn Joseph, here’s your link.

The Bird & City And The Stars


Two for Tuesday logo version

Kathryn Joseph is a Glasgow based artist whose album bones you have thrown me and blood i’ve spilled has made a very favourable impression on many who have heard it since it came out at the end of January.

Featuring Kathryn on piano and vocals and Marcus Mackay on everything else, the album really is an intriguing listen which is ultimately dominated by Kathryn’s mesmeric one-off voice, a vulnerable and haunting, almost unworldly near croak which, although often sounding profoundly sad, I still find enthralling and somehow strangely uplifting.

From a BBC Radio Scotland session recorded for Nicola Meighan, when she was sitting in for Vic Galloway, this is one of the highlights of the album and probably my favourite track from a superb session, The Bird and I’d be interested in hearing your views on it:

Kathryn will be playing the Wide Days Showcase at Edinburgh’s Pleasance Theatre this Friday (10 April) along with the hugely talented C. Duncan and others.

For more on Kathryn:

Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab have very little in common with Kathryn Joseph other than the fact that both make great music and both live in the same city.

I came rather late to the band, through a recent article by Duglas T. Stewart on a batch of exciting new bands from Scotland, and if Duglas recommends something, the odds are that I’ll probably like it too – his other favourites incidentally were No More Tiger, TeenCanteen and Elara Caluna.

Consisting of one time BMX Bandito Stuart Kidd and ex-Owsley Sunshine main man Joe Kane, Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab make a wide range of music, though they do specialize and especially excel at creating alluring bubblegum psych gems that make me think of – for starters – Chicory Tip, Klaatu, Supergrass, The Beach Boys, Hotlegs/10CC, The Small Faces, The Chocolate Watch Band, Chas & Dave (honestly, listen to their track Pie, Mash & Liquor), The Monkees, Appletree Theatre, Todd Rundgren and even Lieutenant Pigeon although I maybe just imagined that last one. Things can definitely get a little trippy listening to their music, man.

According to the band themselves, their newly released album, Beyond The Silver Sea, available on Sugarbush Records, is ‘a sci-fi pop concept album set in an alternate not too distant future.’

The next DCTL show will be on the 22nd April at Nice & Sleazys in Glasgow and here I should mention that, live, they are one of the most eccentric and chaotic bands that I’ve seen in a very long time and fantastic fun too.

This is The City and The Stars:

For more on the band: