Posts Tagged ‘ Music ’


Alien Lullabies: Songs From A Decaying Future
Doll Entrance 300dpi
Opening with hurtling images akin to an alien crash landing accompanied by manic, dislocated electronic scratching and whirling sounds this collaborative production between musician and singer Fiona Soe Paing and animator Zennor Alexander sets out its disorientating agenda from the get go.
For the first few minutes the audience is bombarded with sounds and visions creating and unsettling ambience that continues as the music settles itself into a slinky, pulsating electronic throb simultaneously detached in its pristine iciness and warm in an all-encompassing cocooning fashion.
Against the animated background and positioning herself slightly off centre Soe Paing makes her entrance shrouded in a black straw hat and high heels providing a mysterious charismatic figure. Almost straight away she starts singing in a mixture of English and Burmese creating what sound like filtered messages from another world, with lyrics slightly out of reach and beyond our comprehension. Meanwhile the bleeps, whooshes and whirrs of the electronic back beat provide the backbone and erratic heartbeat set against Alexander’s stunning animated responses featuring gliding swans and trains as modes of transport, mutant forms forming and collapsing alongside an arachnoid playing a harp. It becomes clear the vision here of the future ahead is not the shiny white pristine one we are promised in science fiction but instead it is decadent and decaying relying on machinery reminiscent of Fernand Léger’s cubist imagining of the future.
Whispers, screams, seductive cooing and distortion are just some of the many shapes and sounds Soe Paing summons up with her voice. Occasionally she leaves the stage and lets the visuals direct the narrative but it is the moments she is onstage that captivate and compel the most with her bi-lingual lyrics clarifying and confusing in equal measure. New single ‘Heartbeat’ is perhaps the slinkiest and most accessible of the tracks on show here tonight but it is in good company.
Alien Lullabies: Songs From A Decaying Future delivers on its title more than adequately. A stunning meld of sound and vision perfectly synchronised. If this is the future I want it now!
Alien Lullabies: Songs From A Decaying Future is on at Summerhall at 10.35pm until Sunday 23rd August


Sister –Teen Canteen

With sunshine in summer 2015 being in extremely short supply with grey days, blustery winds and rain it would seem an aural shot of vitamin D in the form of the new Teen Canteen single ‘Sister’ is the perfect antidote to what the Scottish weather cannot provide.
A heavier more percussive sound straying into glam rock territory sees the band moving in a new direction whilst the lyrics focus on the relationships between women and the sisterhood it engenders. Putting their money where their harmonising mouths are the single continues the band’s association with the Scottish Women’s Aid charity by donating twenty pence of every single sold to this very worthwhile charity, following on from May’s all star gig where over £3000 was raised and donated.. Recorded, mixed and mastered in glorious mono and released digitally on Friday 19th June on Our Bandcamp the single can be downloaded digitally and pre-ordered on limited edition cassette..
The B side is a stomping version of longstanding favourite ‘Cherry Pie’ recorded live at the band’s first ever live gig at the now defunct Arches way back in 2012.
So go on treat yourself to the only decent bit of sunshine available in Scotland in this disappointing summer of 2015. If we can’t have the weather at least we always have the music.
Sister is released on June 19th 2015 on Our Bandcamp and can be digitally downloaded. A limited edition cassette version is also available to pre-order.


Martin Metcalfe and The Fornicators

Getting the notoriously fickle folk out of Edinburgh out on a Sunday night is no mean achievement, so from the moment I entered the packed ballroom of the Voodoo Rooms I was pleased to see that not only was the venue packed but there was also a great atmosphere to help things along the way.
Expectations were high and when Metcalfe took to the stage with his trusty band of cohorts and launched into a storming version of the Jacques Brel classic ‘Amsterdam’ expectations were met and the night was off to a great start. The visuals playing out on the backdrop more than adequately complemented the musical treats on offer and Metcalfe, whose voice is as strong as ever and in fact seems to have acquired added timbres lending extra emotional impact, rampaged through a set rooted in acoustics with an electric appeal. Rummaging through an impressive back catalogue drawing on numbers from both his Mackenzie and Angelfish days the hour long set captured emotional tension with musical gravitas.
Impressive moments-‘Amsterdam’ aside, which luckily was not him peaking too soon- included ‘Mummy Can’t Drive’, an impressive number about Deacon Brodie and an encore of ‘Goodwill City’. My personal favourites were ‘The Rattler’ anmd especially ‘Now We Are Married’ which was nowhere as big a hit as it should have been and took on a poignant realisation which only comes from experience and life.
Towards the end of the set he was joined onstage by old band-mate and close friend Paul Hullah who was suffering from slight ‘nervous exhaustion’ or may have been suffering from ‘inebriated jetlag’, having had a stopover in Istanbul a few days ago. It was a relaxed moment which could have strayed into shambolic territory but somehow redeemed itself and was in my opinion quietly brilliant as it showed that technical capability means nothing when those onstage are actually enjoying themselves.
All in all this was a great gig and showed that Metcalfe is still relevant and able to hold an audience’s attention. As for getting a full house on a Sunday night in Edinburgh, that is a success in itself!


Teen Canteen – You’re Still Mine

Teen Canteen’s debut single arrived in the late autumn when their sun-drenched Scottish flavoured harmonies drizzled a bit of late sunshine into an encroaching winter as the first decent summer Scotland had experienced in several years disappeared from view.
Their second single ‘You’re Still Mine’ due for release this week arrives just as temperatures are on the rise although being Scotland the weather still remains erratic but whether it rains, hails or batters you senseless with gusting winds the Beach Girl harmonies, throbbing bass lines and charging melodies will automatically provide your day with essential sunshine rays that the weather is not always able to provide.
A step forward from their debut it is less instantaneous but has a growing power that will lodge itself in your psyche in an extremely pleasant manner. To paraphrase the lyrics it isn’t asking you to love it but instead asking you why you don’t. After several listens this is a question you will be asking yourself.
Produced by Found member Lomond Campbell and like its predecessor arrives courtesy of Edinburgh arts collective Neu! Reekie and their independent record label. Backed by the more melancholic and pensive ‘Vagabond’ –remember B- Sides and when they still mattered? Well, this lot do! – which is a paean to a cold hearted, warm handed, skinny jean clad would be lover with a reluctance to commit. It is a melting heart of a song which drips with frustration and angst.
Released via the –now- traditional digital download there is also a collector’s edition of only 300 copies in frosted clear 7” vinyl which already is close to selling out via pre-orders. The launch for the single takes place on Saturday 14th at Henry’s Cellar bar with a supporting cast of The Just Joans and The Jennas. Get yourself along if you are in town as this will definitely be a night to remember and as the single ascends its way up the charts and into your hearts you will have the privilege of saying you were there for the birth!
‘you’re Still Mine’ is released in a limited edition 7″ frosted clear vinyl on Monday 16th June on Neu!Reekie records and via digital download.
Details of the launch party can be found by clicking on the following link
Teen Canteen on Facebook
The Teen Canteen website


Just An Observation Friday October 25th


Well the long awaited revolution so many of us have wished for gained some screen time on Newsnight this week and arrived not courtesy of the latest highly educated whiz kid politician but from the unlikely source of comedian/actor, Russell Brand. in a thoroughly engaging and convincing interview with regular curmudgeon Jeremy Paxman, or ‘Jeremy darling’ as he will henceforth be known thanks to Brand’s affectionate terming of this supposed political heavyweight, the entertainer put forward a thoroughly convincing and impassioned argument.
Admittedly never a great admirer of Brand’s in the past finding his stand up irritatingly puerile and the least said about his acting abilities-never mind his choice of roles and former wife, the even more irritating Katy Perry- the better. However he has gone someway to reconstructing himself as a social and cultural commentator and in this area I feel he is pretty much unsurpassed in addressing issues politicians, journalists and most other celebrities-Morrissey a notable exception occupies a lot of the same territory but more about him later- simply do not. Dismissed by Paxman as a ‘trivial man’ Brand’s calls for revolution may on the surface come across as exactly that but dig deeper into what he is actually saying and the truth provides a concrete basis for his vocal exhortations and facial grimaces. A cheesy smile occupied his face for most of the interview and Paxman would have done well to remember the old adage ‘Beware the smiling assassin’ as at the interview’s conclusion there was no doubt as to who had trounced who.
‘Profit is a filthy word’ and ‘not voting out of absolute indifference’ were just two notable quotes in an argument which at times was peppered with florally enhanced adjectives but still managed to put across its basic terms. There is no representation in politics for a huge part of our society and I am part of that section which has no representation. The best vote open to me is for the lesser of two evils
which may go someway in preventing the greater evil triumphing.
This option however is riddled with a fatal flaw as anyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the last General Election discovered. I remember speaking to a young first time voter shortly after the election when the Lib Dem’s had joined forces with the Tories in the disastrous collision still in power and he was already disillusioned as voting Liberal-which he considered the most humanitarian and fair option open to him- he had found himself complicit in electing the Tories into power when his objectives had been quite the opposite. This is the disillusioned and disenfranchised populous Brand was referring to who, from what I can see, are all around me and I number myself amongst them.
As for revolution well, why not? If the EDL can make political inroads in opposition to the fairer aspects of our political system why can’t we take charge and oppose the less fair ones. Sometimes it really is that simple it is just important to not let complacency get in the way. That is the real enemy!
As mentioned earlier Morrissey is just as much an activist and has spent his career being a proverbial fly in the ointment. It is unimportant whether you like his music or not although this week The Smiths album The Queen is Dead was voted the best album of all time in the NME in a chart which, for a change, seemed to possess some integrity and validity-two of my personal top three Patti Smith’s Horses and The Velvet Underground and Nico were there with only The New York Dolls missing from the top ten- but as an artist he has always spoken out on subjects others were too scared to address or considered taboo.
His Autobiography however is redefining that overworked genre and is brilliantly written in an area where the likes of nineteen year old Harry Styles- grew up in privileged background, entered talent show, made millions-proliferate and , that filthy word again, profit. It is also obvious that he has written this book himself and the use of language is impressive, evocative and wholly descriptive. Having grown up in the greyish blacks and whites of Manchester in the sixties and seventies this harsh reality never really left him even when, as the last of the international playboys, he is breakfasting with David Bowie. Intermittent snippets of conversation between these two figureheads and reluctant representatives of different generations allow us to discern that the world of the celebrity is mundane and all most of them have in common is their status and prestige. One senses he feels more comfortable with and in awe of the low rent ‘Carry On’ stars of his childhood than the Bowies, Julie Christies and other A-Listers he encounters.
As for his much publicised admission of a sex life, well that is done in true Morrissey fashion by alluding as opposed to out and out confession. If one gains any sense of a true love in Morrisey’s life then it can be directed towards the New York Dolls rather than any individual. Jake Walters would appear to come closest to capturing his heart but even he emerges as a temporary fixture whilst the Dolls are a constant source of joy and love throughout.
Definitely an autobiography which lives up to its apocryphal title and provides what most of us want from such a tome in that it names and shames constantly and he doesn’t stop at grinding his axe but continues to swing it with reckless abandon much to the reader’s delight and amusement. It is about time someone used their position to tell it how it is and just as refreshing is his deeply descriptive telling of pivotal life moments which also are not your typical fare.
Tonight sees 2013’s last instalment of Neu Reekie with an impressive line up including Withered Hand, Kei Miller, Rachel Mc Crum amongst others. The main act for me tonight bthough has to be Teen Canteen who are also promoting their excellent debut single ‘Honey’ coincidentally released on the Neu Reekie record label-these people are already following Brand’s doctrine of getting off their arses and making something happen. This is just one of several live gigs lined up around the country over the next coming weeks including one at RAMMED in the Voodoo Rooms on November 16th. Definitely one of the best Scottish acts on the circuit at the moment catch them while you can at these more intimate venues as it is only a matter of time before this changes as their star is very much in the ascendant.
Here to get your weekend off to a flying start is the video directed by Jonathan Feemantle of that aforementioned single ‘Honey’ released this week.


Just An Observation Friday  September 13th


A short break after the Fringe madness and a chance for Edinburgh to settle down, after the departure of the hordes of tourists and the onslaught of incoming students, seems to have been cut short. It would seem that the early start of the Festival-accompanied by an earlier finish also-which for the first time ever began in July didn’t mean that the time in between these two events, when local residents can claim their city back and walk the pavements without being shunted around and talked at in unintelligible and frantic lingoes, was not in fact being extended as the arrival of students back in the second week of September has clearly made clear.

I am wondering whether Halloween is now at the beginning of October and Christmas is sometime in November as everything seems to be arriving earlier and earlier with each passing year. As far as the latter goes I would not be surprised as the last two weeks have seem festive items appearing on the shelves of some of the larger retail outlets and any minute I expect the first festive themed adverts to appear on television. If I see a Chanel No. 5 advert before November however this is when I know the world has gone mad and our calendar has been radically altered without anyone informing us!

 The end of the Festival this year ended with a bit of a whimper rather than a bang and that includes the Fireworks which let’s face it has become a bit played out and predictable. I opted for the Mela experience instead and headlining act, the Orb. Unfortunately so did about 95% of the population of Edinburgh and as I made my way down the thought which crossed my mind was exactly how is this going to work?  Everybody I knew in my extended circle seemed to have a ticket and Leith Links is hardly Wembley Stadium. As it turned out it didn’t work as the event was cancelled due to extreme high winds though in many ways I suspect this was one act of God the organisers were down on their knees praying for.

If the whole thing had gone ahead I have the feeling it would have been an unmitigated disaster with many disgruntled ticket holders unable to gain entry due to it being oversold. This was the crux of the problem as many believed they had purchased tickets to see The Orb rather than realising they had merely bought tickets to the Mela. The high winds therefore were probably more of a convenience than inconvenience for the organisers as I predicted a bigger disaster if the event had gone ahead.

 Last weekend saw the arrival of autumn with a very abrupt end to summer and its soaring temperatures. Actually autumn is probably my favourite season as it is both cleansing and fresh. It has been refreshing to actually have a selection of seasons this year and hopefully it means people will moan a little less about the weather although we all know that is unlikely seeing as it is virtually a national pastime if not an obsession.

 Unfortunately this also means the return of the X- Crutiating factor which I noticed has returned to our screens and, in act which doesn’t reek of desperation in the slightest, has re-installed the so, so –in her deluded surgically altered head at least- the outrageous Sharon Osbourne. Maybe I stand alone in this but I feel the woman is a faker and although her father -Don Arden-was an industry bigwig in the sixties he was also known as a tyrannical bully who was quite happy to use force to get what he wanted. I am sure there wasn’t a wind like the one which necessitated the cancellation of the Mela blowing the day that particular apple- or Sharon fruit- fell from the tree.

 Elsewhere on TV the new BBC series Peaky Blinders –BBC2 Thursdays at 9pm- looks like being a worthwhile effort. Starring Cillian Murphy-he of the ethereal blue eyes and impossible cheekbones- and set in the early 20th century, but including a sound track including Nick Cave and the White Stripes, it looks set to follow ‘The Fall’ as confirmation that the BBC can still produce outstanding dramas when it puts its mind to it.

 One criticism I have though-and this is about TV Dramas in general- is that the format of showing a series such as this in one hour weekly slots feels outmoded. Our culture is now used to box-sets where the viewer can watch multiple episodes in one sitting and this is now how people prefer to watch such things. It would be a brave move if schedulers realised this and then either showed such series’ over several consecutive nights or at the very least extended the hourly slot to two hours. The latter worked well for ‘The Killing’ on BBC4 so why not apply this tactic to our home-grown dramas? Our viewing habits have changed and this is something that needs to be taken into consideration.

 Coming up next month is the long awaited fourth album ‘Reflektor’ from one of my favourite bands, Arcade Fire,’ Always innovative and moving forward the title track shows that once again they are on track and following their own muse. Here is a taster of what to expect before the album’s release on October 29th.

 Picture above Cillian Murphy in ‘Peaky Blinders’


Brian Eno- Movements


Brian Eno is a pivotal figure-also a surprisingly physically diminutive one- in modern music with his DNA coursing through its veins whilst his sticky fingerprints are all over it and the fact that, since the mid-seventies, he has assumed more and more of an invisible peripheral role only serves to make him all the more enigmatic. Entering the fray playing synthesizer and tapes with Roxy Music-who can forget that TOTP performance of ‘Virginia Plain’ with Eno, at the opposite end of the stage from Bryan Ferry, hunched over his synthesiser in fantasy fur and lurex gloves twiddling knobs like some crazy rock and roll professor beamed in from Planet Xenon? – before collaborating with David Bowie during his most fruitful and experimental phase of his career and rounding the decade off by producing Talking Heads , taking them into unchartered waters.

 In the interim he had a solo career and invented –or at least lent a name to- ‘ambient’ music which had previously not been considered an art form or entity in its own right. Subsequent decades have seen him work with other artists most notably U2 and James although the least said about Coldplay the better.

 This hour long talk about ‘Music’ was as varied and off the wall as his career however and his occasional diversions from the topic in hand provided both highlights and insights whilst the smooth luxury of his voice ensured he held our attention throughout.  At the denouement of his talk I felt he was only getting started and could have listened to him for another hour at least.

 Opening by informing us that certain cultures –including some parts of Africa- don’t have a word for music but do have a word for dance we are taken on a Enoesque take on the form through the ages. Interesting stop offs were the first ‘Synthesiser’, a Telharmonium, which required thirty seven train carriages alone to transport it from town to town. Upon reaching its destination it then had to plug into a major power source such as a telephone exchange so the towns inhabitants just had to lift their receiver off its cradle to hear the strange sounds coming from the musician playing from the train.

 The role of the producer-perhaps what Eno himself is best known and established as- was looked at closely with pioneering names such as George Martin and Phil Spector recognised for their legendary and groundbreaking achievements in this field and raising the role to an art in itself; giving an artist’s recorded artefacts a life of their own, vacuum packing them into a form which does not exist outside its own manifestation. Audiences and their crucial role were also brought into the discussion-a great photo of Iggy Pop crowd surfing illustrated the difference between the reverence of a classical concert and the irreverent and spontaneous nature of a rock and roll one- as well as a look at Elvis and his legendary and, for its time shocking, pelvis which introduced a new form of audience participation concentrating on the corporeal rather than the cerebral.

 Along the way an amusing tale about his one and only time as a hired session hand when the New Seekers-of all people- enlisted his services. If ever there was an incongruous pairing then this was it and it is hardly surprising the fruits of this collaboration never made it past the studio. This is probably for the best but it would make for interesting listening.

 Eno managed to make all this sound effortless-his honeyed tones provided some assist here- and was thoroughly charming and engaging throughout. An hour was no way long enough for him to cover his subject as thoroughly as he wanted to but he still managed to cram so much into this time and in no way did anyone feel cheated.  Definitely a Festival 2013 highlight for me.