Music Catch Up 22/11/2012 (AND I’M ALL CAUGHT UP NOW, YAY!)

Still on catch ups, may not be caught up with this post as the second item is super time sensitive!

First though, something that isn’t. A wee video of PAWS from their set in Berlin. Bit scrappy, but this is The Bubble Boy.

As for time sensitive, well it needs to be up before 8PM. Jemma Tweedie will be live in session on ECFM and you can hear it here . Looks like my station but in East Lothian there. Boo hiss! Nah it’s all good, I plan to listen. I’m also planning to start sessions at some point including one with Jemma eventually. Yay!

And finally for recent stuff, you guessed it Rachel Sermanni. First off a session that I don’t have time to listen to or that would be all there is for this post. Live uit Lloyd which is foreign, can’t remember where, and I guess means Live With Lloyd. She also does a tour blog on Tumblr which I haven’t linked until now as I’m a tube. And I don’t have a Tumblr.

Right, on to the catch up bit.

Two bits of news for The Maginot Band, both vague. They are on this podcast….somewhere. Not sure which one to be honest. And they have two new singles coming, one next month and one in January. Dates imminent and I for one can’t wait as I’ve been listening to them a fair bit lately. Brilliant stuff.

They have a couple of dates pending, keep an eye on The List, so you’ll be able to hear The Ragazzi live soon. You can hear them not live NOW though via soundcloud. New uploads are Ask Myself Why recorded live at The Greenhouse and Fresh Faced. Haven’t listened yet, will shortly, sure they are both ace.

Alas, Thousand Stars have decided to call it quits. Two members are off to new projects though. Andrew “Badger” Stewart is now the bassist for Furry Vengeance and Marc-Andrew Davidson has gone all solo accoustic.

I had a wee display driver fail so I assume this has video I can’t see. Here’s the Slim Panatellas playing the BSA festival in France last month.

Toby Michael’s Rolling Damned have plans, big plans, MOVIE plans. Before that they’re making a preview trailer thingy and therefore need actors. I’m one, so I’ve gone for it. And I’m not telling you how as there’s only two male roles and one female one. Only joking, go here if being in a film is a little bit of what you fancy. It’ll do you good.

AND I’M ALL CAUGHT UP! YAY! So next one will be a news post and hopefully I’ll never fall behind that badly again. Whew.

The Battle of the Bands: The Final review

And so the three mighty bands did meet on the field of battle. Axes in hand, some only armed with sticks or battle cries. And lo, did the reviewer stop writing like this as it’s confusing.

Yup, 3 bands. No Ragazzi, not sure why. Axes would be guitars, sticks were drum sticks, the lassie from Thousand Stars doesn’t play an instrument. Makes sense now eh?


The birthday boy

The night was three things. Organiser/compare Graeme Gilchrist’s birthday (happy birthday!), the final of the battle with that all important 3 days of recording up for grabs and the re-opening of The Eagle upstairs after a very long period of being shut. A fair few of the more experienced crowd members commented on how glad they were that it was back. The refurbished venue is very nice too. Roughly Market Bar sized for the crowd, bigger stage so a band can fit, toilets that aren’t Hobbit sized. Nice place all round. Wee bar in the corner, windows make a good back drop for the stage, comfy sofas to incentivise turning up early so you get one. The sound is good too. Check it out when you get a chance.

Not to put The Market Bar down any, love the place.

But this isn’t a venue review now is it? I had a vote in the outcome of this, yet no one who was playing bribed me. Poor show bands. Archie from the Oxides offered me a quid, as did Ryan Golder. PROFESSIONALS!

First up were Searching for Donkeys. They were Switzerland, non combatants and didn’t vote on the outcome. I only caught the end of the set as I had to jump over to The Market Bar for a bit and I wouldn’t review them in this instance anyway. I will say that they are a nice, mellow rock band and leave it at that for now. Proper review down the road no doubt.

And then came the first group of warriors. Lionel, only their second gig. The first one being the heat to get here. There appears to have been a decent amount of rehearsing in between as they sounded tighter than they did the first time. They have a retro sound with some great bass hooks and twangy/twiddly guitar solos. Each instrument, drums included, brings with it some variety over the bands regular sound to keep things interesting. They also showed a lack of fear by playing not one but two new tunes (though to be fair, second gig means they are all new to most of us. PLAYING new is a different matter though). The first new track fits in with their other stuff, the second is a fair bit darker and deeper. Like Lionel’s evil twin. To start with I thought this brought with it a bit of a weakness vocally but as the song went on my opinion changed. Could have just been down to nerves or it being new. Overall it was a blistering set from a band who sound more experienced than they are. A few more gigs under their belt and I could see them doing rather well. Keep at it boys.


76 Knots, catching flies

Next up were 76 Knots, another relatively new band really but slightly less so than Lionel. In the heat review I also highlighted a bit of vocal weakness at times and thought the same to start with this time around. As the set progressed I changed my opinion on that though. Now and again a bit patchy, generally spot on. Particularly for the genre of music they play and especially when it’s full on punky singing. I call it California Punk, or Skater punk. Loud, fast, high energy. There is nothing to fault musically here at all. I’ve referred to Andy as the second best bassist in Inverness BUT after a second visit….it so bloody close I can’t chose between him and Archie. And I’ve got a feeling that each of them would point to the other one as the best, which is nice. All round they brought fun, good music from all three guys and vocally they have a bit of an Offspring thing going on really. Though better. Uber bassist Andy provides backing and lead vocals on one track and when he’s doing the lead it gets very Offspringish. Though better. I LIKE the Offspring but don’t love em, just using it as an example for your ears. I’ve seen these guys twice now, they keep getting better, the crowd loved them though I think it was weighted in their direction anyway. Cracking.


This picture is full of stars, a Thousand of them.

And finally, Thousand Stars who keep things in a California vein but a more mellow one. They aren’t goths, but I think of the sound as gothy indie rock. Like stuff you’d get on The Craft or Charmed soundtrack. They have a very passionate singer and lyrically I think they may be spot on for the genre though I need to listen to things a few times to pick up on that kind of thing. They could probably do with cutting back on the harmonised parts on some songs though as it doesn’t always gel. They are a much mellower band than 76 Knots so placement may have damaged them a little bit. In fact at times, mainly while playing, they looked a bit disheartened. If that is the case then fair play to them as they did as good, if not a bit better, a set as I’ve seen them play and they brought banter in between the songs to have some crowd interaction (something that was scored on). A solid set from a solid band who I’m not sure are QUITE there yet but are certainly on the right track.

And that was it. Scores were scribbled on bits of paper and handed in to the hosts, totting up was done, milling about for 5 minutes happened and then results were announced. And the winner was…..

76 Knots! Which is fitting really as on the night they played the best set. Not to put the others down by any means. So at some point I’ll have a 76 Knots EP to play on the radio, along with the Thousand Stars one and hopefully Lionel at some point. The winner were extremely happy, grateful for the opportunity and respectful to their opponents. Their opponents didn’t have a problem with who won though obviously there was probably a bit of disappointed. No hard feelings though. Yes it was a competition, but not a nasty one. Very good to see, don’t want a divided scene. Throughout everyone had a good time, we got to see some good gigs and the upstairs bit of the Eagle has made a blistering return to the Inverness scene. Expect more music up there, expect to see me now and again hopefully, and expect that EP in…oh could well be a couple of months really.

Thanks to The Eagle, the Searching for Donkey’s boys for organising it and to EVERYONE who played (even though I missed heat 4). Wonder if they’ll do it again next year…. And a special thanks to photographer extraordinaire Adrian Young for taking all of the pretty pictures used in these reviews. Great work man.

Music News 09/10/2012

Hey kids, couple of bits and bobs from the last few days.

First up a rather trippy offering from Roads to Damascus. It’s a video for the final track on second album R2D2, I Dream In Mirrors, and all a bit mental really. As you’d expect.

Less trippy, next up there’s an offering from Red Kites. I’d expect a few videos of these guys to be rolling out over the next while after their plea for footage. The sound on this is rather dodgy, festival speakers overwhelm wee cameras quite easily, here’s Beat In Time from Bella shot by Kathryn Munro. Thanks Kathryn. Crowd bloody loved it and rightly so.

And finally, yup I did say there was only a couple of bits and bobs, Inverness Gigs have been interviewing bands ahead of the final of The Battle of The Bands in the Eagle tomorrow (10/10) night. It’s the opening of upstairs, you should come, it’ll be great. Here’s interviews with Thousand Stars, 76 Knots and Lionel. None for The Ragazzi, not sure why.

And finally finally, my old gig Breaking News North did a story on the launch of my new gig ABC Radio which you can see here. So now you know what I’ll be staring at 4 hours a week. Glamorous!

Thanks for reading. No news tomorrow for sure, Battle of the Bands, but a bunch of reviews incoming.

Battle of the Bands: THE FINAL preview

DUN DUN DUN!!!! 16 bands/soloists entered, four remain. The battle has become too large for the bar and moves upstairs. Well that’s a bit of a lie, this whole thing was to open the upstairs bit. To the losers, shame. To the victors, crushed enemies driven before them and hearing the lamentations of their women. And 3 days of recording at Strathsounds.

Also, no shame for the losers. Or the people who didn’t make the final. Nice work by all (I’m assuming for heat 4 as I couldnae go).

So our final four warrior tribes aka bands. For three of them I’ll just nick what I said in the review. For the fourth, the preview. I’m a lazy man.

The Ragazzi: “Whether it was down to them or just coincidence the crowd really picked up numbers wise during the set. I know for sure the enthusiasm level WAS down to them though. A loud funky band with a sound that’s a mix of ska style licks and indie style vocals they had everyone taping and bopping along. Myself included. They won’t be playing any kids parties any time soon, the work fuck was used a number of times *shocked look*, but if they popped up on an indie romance soundtrack (love being a theme in the lyrics) it would be no shock. They’re well polished and if they play things right they could go quite far. I wouldn’t be shocked to hear them on 6 music in coming years, and thanks Barry’s girlfriend (sorry, crap with names (PRESENT DAVE: IT’S KATHRYN PAST DAVE) for helping my brain to click that it was The Kooks I thought they sounded like. They are definitely one to catch if you have the chance, and soon.”

76 Knots: “Who were my favourites to win going in to the thing. That was up in the air after Lionel though. Musically I’d say they are superior. They’re a tighter band, damned fine drummer and great guitar. The bass is a heavy element of their sound and luckily they have possibly the second best bassist in Inverness to carry that weight. The weakness though is in the singing. Like I’ve said I’m crap at taking track names down but the second one they played NAILED where the singing should probably be. They have a punk vibe about them and produce a good wall of noise. When the singer is really going for it and throwing some passion in he’s great. The rest of the time…not so much really. It’s a common issue with rock bands though, not too hot on the vocal range. I think people take it a bit for granted that the singing bit is the easy one when it isn’t really. So if I was in charge, which I sure as hell am not, I would push the vocals in the more punky direction. But it was a solid set, they sound musically pretty awesome, and they had the crowd behind them.”

Thousand Stars: Who I didn’t catch but have heard before and enjoyed. Preview said “Rock band, US influences, bit of a mid to late 90′s sound about them, girl on vocals which is a bit of a stand out from most rock bands in these here parts. First time I heard them, and it still stands now, I said they would fit quite well on a college age drama soundtrack. That should give you an idea of the sound, but so should the tracks on that profile I linked there.”

And finally, Lionel: WAIT, but they didn’t win a heat! Well the thing is that heat 2 winner Emma Mitchell is off on holiday when the final is on. Runner up Dougie Burns is otherwise engaged as well. The next bands, Roads to Damascus and All Hat No Cat, were tied (as were Emma and Dougie initially). So the organisers went with the most popular runner up band. These guys tied with The Ragazzi during their heat in the inital vote, and scored very high on the clapometer. Totally get the logic, no controversy at all really. Anyway this is what I said about Lionel “It’s pronounced Lee-oh-Nell apparently. Not in my head it isn’t but it’s their band. And apparently this was their first gig! Couldn’t tell at all. They’re an alternative rock band, because I’m lazy I’d say they sound like The Ragazzi without the ska element. Which is admittedly a big part of their act. They’d fit on the same bill very well but Lionel aren’t quite as tight. Like I said though, first gig and that. The main comparison is singer wise as they’re similar to each other. Less of a north of England vibe and way more of a California vibe to them, they have some nice bass and great guitar hooks. I’m bad for not making note of song names but the track Teenage Tragedy, I believe, highlights that Cali rock vibe and is a heck of a tune. In my notes I’ve referred to them as half way rock. They aren’t mellow, they aren’t super loud rocky stuff, they’re solidly in the middle of that. I, and the crowd, enjoyed the hell out of them and I’m really looking forward to hearing them again some time soon.”

Slightly controversially, though not really, the bands will be judging each other! So each band will give each OTHER band a score for music, stage presence, look, originality and crowd reaction. The event page says lowest score wins….bit confusing. Maybe it’s like golf. Thankfully I won’t be doing any scoring. If there’s a tie then the meter of clapos will come in to play. And at the end one band will have some more work ahead, and the other three will just have had a really good gig. Last one, birth of a new venue, ^they are all ace, see you there aye?

Oh, I was going to include Ade’s pics BUT there isn’t one for Thousand Stars so that wouldn’t be fair. He’ll be at the final though so that’ll be fixed soon enough.

Music News 27/09/2012

Hey ki…..know what, screw that. This could be huge so right to it. Wee scroll bar on my Facebook list is teeny…

Siiga has an ongoing thing where people take pictures of a Siiga sticker all over the joint, and they have been to some pretty remarkable places. SO he’s set up a tumblr page where they can appear. Want to join in? I have no idea how, contact Siiga for some stickers I’d guess.

Toby Michael’s Rolling Damned have started to get their merch on. If you go here you can pre-order a t-shirt with a zombie dude on a motorbike. There’s only 99 so hurry up! “99? But it says 100…” Yeah, but I want one so it’s 99. Don’t hurry too much either as I haven’t got any money until Friday. You can hurry on Saturday. There’s also a comic in the works! Think they’re the closest the Highlands has to Tenacious D. Only a matter of time before you can get a Jonny Gash figure.

Here’s a video from a young local musician I haven’t really heard much of yet. Her name is Bethany Wappler, she plays piano/guitar and sings, and this is an original piece called Unresolved Love. No singing, it’s an instrumental piano piece. And it’s bloody good!

Thousand Stars EP is almost finished. Better be, you have 3 and a half weeks before my radio show starts and I need stuff to play on it. It features the kind of stuff you’d expect if you’ve heard them before plus “shows we can flip the “Thousand Stars” sound and turn it on its head”. Intriguing…country and western yoddling number played on the flute then.

Barry Mackay and Ryan Golder may well have played their last gig as a duo. Bit shocking that. Oh wait, don’t panic! They’re getting a band together! So it’ll be the same kind of sound I’d think, but richer for having other things thrown in. I believe I’ve seen them play with some supporting instruments and it really works so it could be pretty damned good. That said if you get the chance to catch them “solo” ahead of the new line up then go for it.

Those mini videos for Rachel Sermanni‘s album tracks have continued to come out in my absence. I’m working my way through time here so this paragraph may have them all by the time I’m done. Little Prayer has some antics in a train station. Here is the clip for opening track Breathe Easy, it’s all stormy waves and vanishing letters. This clip is for my favourite track, The Fog (favourite video is still the Ever Since The Chocolate one though). Here is the video for Black Current, and it’s a trippy one. And if THOSE clips weren’t enough here’s a wee bit of Marshmallow Unicorn shot at The Bike Shop, wherever that is. And she also played Ever Since The Chocolate in the dark and scary darkness for RTTV sessions. Fits quite well really.

There’s an interview with Thurso rawk gawds Estrella over at Inverness Gigs. If you wanted to see them live then….you missed it. There’s a gig list up ^there you know, called The List, it’s semi decent.

Monster FM will shortly draw to a close. But some of it will live on for eternity, or at least a few years, thanks to the magic of the internets. Here’s the DJ set by local duo Them and Us. You know, there’s another Radio station that has a longer season (forever possibly, 2 years looks likely anyway) that could well be happy to have some DJs of your kind on board guys. They’ve also done a remix of Next of Kin by the excellent Miniature Dinosaurs because that’s what they do. Prefer the original myself but this has some damned fine moments.

In other electronic music news, Count Clockwork have stuck up a preview of Ozlide. I’m assuming that’s a track. They call them tracks in dance land right? I’m down with the kids I am.

Back to instruments being played loudly while someone screams. You know what that means right? Yup, Cleavers. This is the WHOLE DAMNED SET (maybe. 12 mins anyway) from Crowbar in Groningen, and it’s loud and good so it is.

Two bits and bobs from Netsounds Unsigned. First off it’s another introducing piece, this time about Aberdeen singer/songwriter Cara Mitchell. I’ll second the fact that you have to go to here show as Esperi is an amazing thing to see live. I’ll be there at Hoots unless something goes very wrong. And secondly they have a new podcast episode out. My friend, the lovely Anna Sweeney is in this one, as are locals Sienna Lights.

There’s a new track up from Naked Strangers, called Idiot Beat. Bit weird, almost disconcerting, but rather good along with it so that’s okay then. Wouldn’t listen in the dark.

What have James Mackenzie and Batman got in common? They’ve both been filmed at Inverness Airport! And that’s it. As far as I know…. Anyway, here is the video for Something I’m Not Telling You. Very good stuff.

Another new video, along with a warning. Don’t emulate rock groups. Not only do He Slept on 57 smash things, burn things and pollute the ocean in the video for Katy, Bar The Door but they also PLAY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!!! Didn’t the Green Cross Code Man teach you boys anything?! Makes for a cracking video though.

And finally, two bits of Belladrum news. First off, the official highlight video is out. Looks like it was great craic, unfortunately I wasn’t there this year (or ever, never been to Bella, shock horror). And second, tickets for next year’s festival are now on sale. Check the official site for the various options and hopefully I’ll see you there.

WHEW, all caught up again. Bit calmer for the next week or two so should be able to keep up. Give us a like on Facebook and thanks very much for reading 🙂