Category Archives: Music

CHVRCHES

So alternative they spell their own name wrong (apparently they hated battling Jesus for internet hits), it’s time to meet the latest of Glasgow’s homegrown talent, indie synth band, Chvrches.

Tipped to be big in 2013, Chvrches is a three-piece act made up of Lauren Mayberry, former journalist, Martin Doherty, of popular Scottish indie group The Twilight Sad, and Iain Cook, who was previously a member of Scottish alternative band, Aerogramme.

Unlike most modern bands that use the Internet to thrust their music into the limelight as much as possible before it is even released Chvrches took a slightly different approach. They generated hype by only placing two singles online, ‘Lies’ and ‘The Mother We Share, which both wreaked havoc on YouTube. That air of mystery made them one of the more interesting musical stories of 2012. Despite having little material readily available for fans, the news about Chvrches began to spread quickly and they started to sell out gigs in Scotland.

Their initial popularity may have been partially due to the members’ fame from other bands. However, it seems it was also likely caused by the unusually dark yet euphoric sound of Chvrches, which has undoubtedly captured the attention of music buffs around the country. ‘The Mother We Share’ was released in November as a single on National Anthem. There are few pop songs that grab your attention like this one with its soothing electro pop melody combined with Mayberry’s unique and delicate voice. The single propelled them from an ‘alright band fae Glasgae’ to one of the potential next big acts to emerge from its streets.

Their potential is clear from the amount of success the electro pop band has already experienced in 2012. From their rising popularity to sell-out shows to supporting massively successful band Passion Pit, Chvrches have risen in the musical ranks rather quickly. Their single ‘Lies’ ranked at number 28 on NME’s best track of 2012. The Mother We Share ranked at number 51 on The Huffington Post’s Top Songs of 2012. They also came fifth in the BBC Sound of 2013 new music list.

Their recent session on Huw Stephens’ Radio One show further showcased the raw talent of Chvrches and also revealed that they had plans for an album to be released in 2013.

I was lucky enough to see this band in August 2012 in Edinburgh, and by that stage it was already pretty clear that they were going to take the British music scene by storm. With their debut album being due for release in 2013 it seems the band are just about to do that. As the mystery around them lessens and their music becomes more available it will stand to speak for itself proving them as the latest and greatest electro pop band to emerge from Britain. Their rise is inevitable… so keep an eye out for Chvrches this year.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Viktor Rosenfeld (https://www.flickr.com/photos/helter-skelter/)

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Newton Faulkner

In order to make this years Daft Friday even more of a whopper of a night, we’ve only gone and got the lovely Newton Faulkner to perform as the headline act.

That’s right- joining the ranks of Frightened Rabbit and Bombay Bicycle Club Newton Faulkner is taking to the stage in GUU this December. Don’t say we’re not good to you.

If you have been living in a soundproof box for the last 5 years and have not heard the smooth acoustic tunes of Newton Faulkner then here’s the down low on him.

Newton Faulkner was born in 1985 and is from Surrey in England. He is a singer- songwriter and is music is acoustic guitar based.

His music career began to take off in 2006 when he made appearances on BBC Radio 2 and secured a publishing deal with Peermusic UK who asked the Independent on Sunday to tell its readers to ‘watch his face.’ He also performed at the American music festival South by Southwest in 2006 and then at Guilfest in 2007. In 2007 he signed with Sony BMG records and supported Paolo Nutini, James Morrison and John Mayer on tour.

He also released his first album in 2007- this is what pushed him to the forefront of British music. The album was entitled Hand Built by Robots and it reached number one in the UK album chart. One of the singles he released from the album, entitled ‘Dream Catch Me’ also made number seven in the UK singles chart. It was Jo Whiley’s Petsound on her radio one show and it was even featured in the 2010 film She’s Out of my League.

Newton went on to release a second album in 2009, entitled Rebuilt oy Humans. It reached number three in the UK album charts. The first single he released from the album was called ‘If This Is It’. The video for this was given an exclusive screening on Channel Four.

This year, Newton has come back into the limelight. He released an EP back in April, entitled Sketches, with three new tracks. However, Newton then decided to update it and re-release it in May. He also released his third studio album in July, called Write It on Your Skin. It made number one in the UK album charts. The first single released from the album back in June, was called ‘Clouds’.

Aside from albums, Newton Faulkner has also played a variety of gigs and music festivals up and down the country and abroad, including Oxegen, T in the Park and Glastonbury.

Also he’s white and ginger, yet he can still pull off dreadlocks. WHAT MORE COULD YOU POSSIBLY WANT?

Basically, he is a fantastic musician and will be a pleasure to see live. He will, undoubtedly, make this Daft Friday a night to remember.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Tim Peters (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tim_peters/)

Meeting Louis Abbott

I met with Louis Abbott, front man of Admiral Fallow (formerly known as the Brother Louis Collective), to discuss the band, the records and their gig at the GUU on the 10th of September.

On first meeting Louis he seemed a little subdued but that was simply because he was still recovering from a gig he had played in London a few nights earlier. However, the minute we began to talk about Admiral Fallow and the progress they have made in the last couple of years he became incredibly animated. Although they formed six years ago it has been since the release of their first album in 2010 that they have gone from strength to strength, playing festivals, such as Glastonbury and Rock Ness, and other gigs up and down the country. He told me his highlights from the last few years were “any headline shows in Glasgow from a show at the Arches last year through to an ABC show in January, which we managed to sell out, which was totally surprising.” That modest tone was one maintained by Louis throughout the interview. Despite the success the band has enjoyed recently Louis seems very aware that “many people in this country still don’t know who we are.”

Admiral Fallow is one of the many indie groups to emerge from Scotland in the last decade or two. Louis acknowledged this pointing to the “strong insurgence in Scotland, particularly in the central belt of bands not afraid to use their own voice and who are not trying to sound like any band out with Scotland.” When I referred to Glasgow specifically producing many successful music acts he laughed and told me “yeah… there must be something in the water.”

We moved on to discuss the two albums that Admiral Fallow have released. The first one, Boots Met My Face was named Best Album of 2010 by Scottish music website The Pop Cop. It is a very personal record, which was inspired by Louis’s upbringing in Edinburgh. The second album, Tree Bursts in Snow, was released earlier this year and it is, according to the singer, “not drastically different in terms of instrumentation, although it is a lot more direct, poppier and groove-based.” However, there is definite evidence of maturity in the second album compared to the first and that seems to lie largely in what inspired the songs. Louis said “I tried to look past my own experiences and write from the perspectives of other people. There should always be a progression. There’s nothing more boring than a band that makes the same record five times over because they know it will be successful.”

So what have Admiral Fallow got lying in the future? Louis seemed particularly excited for their show in Glasgow at the Barrowlands in December. They have also planned a tour of North America, Europe and the rest of the UK in the next couple of months. “And, eh, I haven’t got quite as far to thinking about next year yet” he laughed. “There are fragments of songs coming together all the time”, which hopefully means that a third album is not too far on the horizon.

Louis added just before he left: “I am really excited to play the GUU in Freshers’ Week. It should be a fun gig. It’s always nice playing Glasgow shows, which bodes well for this.”

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Michael Gallagher (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgallacher/)

A Musical Map of Glasgow

You have now arrived at Glasgow University. You and your peers will vary in the reasons for your decision to come here. Some of you will have made the sensible option of selecting university on the basis of what is best for your degree; others may have selected this wonderful city for the drinking opportunities, what with the array of cheap bars and nightclubs. Having previously spent countless train fares coming through to Glasgow every other weekend to watch my favourite bands play, I like to think that I selected the city for the music (although the cheap booze factor did play its part).

For with its plentiful gig venues, big and small, Glasgow is the musical hub of Scotland. Paulo Nuttini, The Fratellis and Twin Atlantic are just a few of the big names to have emerged from this city in the past decade.

So where do you begin to discover music in Glasgow; a city with venues and new bands round every other corner? I’ve tried to fashion somewhat of a guide for those of you new to the city to start your induction into the Glasgow music scene…

For those with a taste simply for chart music or big name acts, it would be best to first turn to the SECC, a venue which has seen the likes of Rihanna take to the stage. However, you’re likely to pay around £25 to £40 for a ticket here, which, if you don’t know already, isn’t always a feasible option for a student.

So those of you that are a little more limited in the cash area and have a bit of a taste for the indie side of life you should try the ABC or the O2 Academy. These venues have featured rock bands such as Frightened Rabbit and We Are Scientists as well as numerous artists of different genres . You’re likely to pay £15 to £25 a ticket for a gig at one of these venues

However, the guys who are seriously struggling to stretch the student loan out past food and rent and who fancy something a little more unknown should stick to the small venues dotted about the city. A good one to start with is Nice N Sleazys, which has been host to a range of different acts, including Linlithgow-raised band Penguins Kill Polar Bears. You’re likely to pay less than £10 for the majority of the shows here and with the best White Russians in town at only £3 there’s not much to complain about.

But if you are truly at the end of your overdraft get yourself to Bar Bloc, which hosts a variety of alternative music acts, and it’s free entry to all concerts before 12am. In the past Bloc has been party to Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison and slow-paced, melodic rock band Jeniferever.

Lastly, no one can discuss music in Glasgow without mentioning “Britain’s best small venue” as NME described it in 2011. It is, of course, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. It has been at the forefront of the Scottish live music scene since its creation in 1990 and is a showcase for new bands. Tickets for gigs tend to cost between five and fifteen pounds and recently, it has featured the happy, jangly sounds of Tango in the Attic and the rather lovely acoustic singer/songwriter Michael Cassidy.

So whether you’re a mad punk rocker or someone who likes to chill out with some acoustic guitar melodies you’ll be able to find something in Glasgow’s deep dark streets to satisfy your musical thirst. But, just to get you started, here are a few gigs to look out for:

King Tuts: 21st September- Three Blind Wolves and Carnivores- £7

Nice and Sleazys: 27th September- Raymond Meade (Fables and Follies album launch) – £5

O2 ABC:  29th September- Azealia Banks- £15.50

SECC: 10th November- Bon Iver, £25

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Katy Stoddard (https://www.flickr.com/photos/katy_bird/)

Nina Nesbitt

Watch out Ellie Goulding, Diana Vickers and all other female singer/songwriters with their ever so quirky voices- there’s a new girl on the scene.

From Balerno, a small suburb on the outskirts of Edinburgh, comes seventeen-year-old Nina Nesbitt complete with the looks, personality and talent required to achieve chart topping success.

Having spent years at Balerno High School uploading one YouTube video after another and exploiting the use of social media, slowly building up a local fan base, Nina has managed to stumble on to fame through none other than the incredibly successful Ed Sheeran.

After meeting Ed in Edinburgh at an intimate gig and gaining the opportunity to play him one of her own songs, Nina was swiftly asked to support him at the ABC in Glasgow. She was then asked by the other major star, and one of Sheeran’s close friends, Example to support him in a few of his English gigs last year. Since then she has also accompanied other famous pop stars such as Pixie Lott.

Half Swedish Nina seems almost destined for fame what with her also having previously been scouted by a model agency Colours. Her striking looks made her a success both in photo shoots and on the catwalk. However, Nesbitt has insisted that in her life, music takes precedence over fashion. She does not simply want to be known as a model that can sing.

But with the all-star backing she has received from the likes of Sheeran and Example this seems unlikely to be the case.

Nina’s music career has rocketed in the past year from the uploading of her own music videos to the internet to headlining her own gig in Glasgow last month and currently supporting Ed Sheeran on his European tour.

But it is not simply her career that has taken a leap but also her love life, what with the current rumours that Sheeran and Nesbitt have become far more than musical acquaintances after they went on a romantic trip to Venice together at the beginning of the year.  Nina has so far refused to comment on the relationship, which is Ed’s first romantic entanglement since his ex-girlfriend who inspired many of the songs on his current number one album.

Furthermore, Nina became the star of Ed’s recent music video for his single Drunk adding to her recent found fame and to the rumours circulating the two artists.

Despite the overwhelming success and attention she has received of late, Nesbitt is refusing to let anything or anyone slow her down, taking her rapidly blossoming music career in her stride, pursuing her love for music and song writing with increased perseverance.

Nina Nesbitt’s EP Live Take is now available to download from ITunes, consisting of three of her original songs and a rather impressive cover of David Gray’s Babylon. It displays the young girl’s quirky nature and raw talent perfectly.

So all that can be said is watch this space. Take it from someone who witnessed her YouTube success story first-hand, from the beginning. Nina Nesbitt is going to be big news in 2012.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Kimmo de Gooijer (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimmo/)

An Interview with TWBF

Glasgow is host to a multitude of unsigned bands so what is so special about There Will Be Fireworks, yet another label-less group gigging in the likes of Stereo and Captain’s Rest? Well, not only did they form at our very own Glasgow University, but also have an incredible atmospheric sound akin to the likes of Explosions in the Sky and lyrical depth reminiscent of Tom Waits. Furthermore, album and ticket sales alone have allowed the band to become completely self-sufficient. Their gig last January was so popular they had to turn many fans away at the door.

I caught up with Nicky from the band to find out about their new album and their plans for the future:

Have you changed much as a band since your last album?

“Well we’re pretty much the same personnel but I think the sound has changed a fair bit. For a start, the song writing has naturally developed over the last few years. For the first album, we bashed out all the songs in a practice space and then headed to the studio to record them. Given that time with everyone in the one place has been a commodity over the last few years, the way we’ve written has changed. We’ve been writing a lot more in the studio and experimenting as we record. It’s produced a different type of song compared to the first album.”

Have you ever been surprised with the amount of support you have received?

“Yeah, we’re really grateful for the generally positive reaction that we’ve had. The internet is an incredible tool for getting music out there and we’ve managed to gather a small but supportive crowd of listeners. As an unsigned band, we don’t have any PR other than whatever nonsense we might spout on Facebook or Twitter (@twbf), so it’s been really gratifying. The most surprising thing has been the number of people from outside the UK who have been buying our album. We’ve just released our new EP Because, Because and again we’ve had interest from abroad. It’s cool that something we make on a shoestring in a studio in Strathaven gets listened to by someone a few thousand miles away.”

Would you say that living in Glasgow has influenced your music?

“Glasgow has influenced our music more than anything else. I have lived here more or less my whole life and the city has definitely seeped into our song writing. Without wanting to be parochial, we are a Glasgow band and it’s inevitable that that will be reflected in what we produce.”

You guys all attended Glasgow University. Do you have any advice for any students who are interested in forming a band?

“Bash out some songs, get in a studio and record them. Play gigs but not so many that people get bored of you. And if you’re going to go to a studio to record, research which bands have recorded there to find something that will chime with your sound. Everything we have recorded was done at Old Mill Studios in Strathaven and we can’t recommend it enough.”

The band’s most recent packed out gig at Stereo in December displayed their continuing popularity with the Glasgow public. Taking to the stage in Christmas onesies these guys showed that despite not taking themselves too seriously they are truly a highlight of the current Glasgow music scene.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Paradasos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/paradasos/)

Ryan Returns through Ashes and Fire

Only two years ago now one of the most notable names in the music industry announced his retirement. But Ryan Adams has returned to us, much to the delight of many country rock fans, with a new solo album, entitled Ashes and Fire.

Ryan first rocketed onto the music scene with the release of Heartbreaker in 2000. It was a raw, personal album, packed with acoustic guitars and despairing, heart-felt lyrics. He soon became known for this genre of bummed out folk music. He was depressing as hell… but people loved him for it.

Since then Ryan has led the predictably clichéd life of a musician. His health and career almost completely disintegrated due to substance abuse. The artist claims himself “it was a miracle he didn’t die”. He gave up both heroin and cocaine in 2006.

However, Ryan also had issues with his backing band The Cardinals, who carried the artist through five albums. However, tensions in the band led to the bassist Caroline Popper leaving in 2006. The band then dissolved in 2009 on bad terms.

Perhaps the musician’s biggest struggle, though, was his diagnosis with Ménière’s disease five years ago.  This disease is an inflammation of the inner ear and its symptoms include nausea and dizziness but most importantly the loss of hearing at certain frequencies.

For any normal person this disease is a hassle; for a musician it can be devastating.

So Ryan Adams was left in 2009 with no band, no record deal and damaged hearing. Not exactly the ideal set up for someone with a career in music. He therefore announced his retirement and disappeared to enjoy a quiet life with his wife, actress Mandy Moore.

However, this new album has proven that the artist is about as capable as staying away from a recording studio as students are at staying away from a bar advertising pound drinks.

Ashes and Fire, his return as a solo artist, has illustrated that he has overcome his Ménière’s disease and his other issues.  It is possibly the most emotional fraught album since his debut in 2000, Heartbreaker.

With low key guest singers such as Norah Jones the album is kept far more basic than the Adams we are used to. The average track length is only three and a half minutes with every track focused on his voice and a single instrument. Producer, Glynn Jones, has kept the record about what Adams does best.

The opening track ‘Dirty Rain’ has a simplicity to both its lyrics and melody that is akin to that of Willie Nelson’s, Adams’ idol. This song introduces us to the new, mature Ryan Adams that the rest of the album allows us to get used to.

The first track to be released from Ashes and Fire, ‘Lucky Now’, consists of lyrics that are dedicated to lost youth- a tribute to the bassist of the Cardinals Chris Feinstein, who died in 2009. But it also seems to be a highly personal track in which Adams acknowledges the changes he has undergone in the past few years, summarised in the finishing line of the song “am I really who I was?”

The last track on the album ‘I Love You but I Don’t Know What to Say’ is the one that will be likely to last with listeners long after the album is over. With his voice carrying the song over the piano, Adams causes an impact with very little effort. The track appears to be a message of love and devotion to his wife yet at the same time it stands to be a testament to the emotional turmoil he has experienced in the last decade.

So Ryan Adams, finally settled in a domestic home, his Ménière’s disease in remission and his music career back on track, appears to have truly left behind the fire in his life.

This album reflects this. The diehard fans may not appreciate the lack of raw, personal lyrics and dramatic melodies that define Heartbreaker. It is doubtful Adams will ever truly live up to that incredibly powerful debut. However, Ashes and Fire conveys a different side to the artist, a mature side. He is less self-indulgent with his songs than he was ten years ago. His music has been stripped bare and toned down. But this is promising.

As Adams embarks on his solo tour, it seems that this album marks a successful return to the music industry for arguably one of the greatest musicians of our generation. His work continues to influence several popular artists to date.

So is Ryan Adams really who he was? The answer is no, but this makes him no less of a musician, quite the contrary, it has allowed him to move on and develop as an artist.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of wfuv (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfuv/)