Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers - BBC Tees Session (30/03/10)


Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers continued plugging their upcoming debut album "Home and the Wildhunt" with a wee session for BBC Tees yesterday. Here's three songs they performed on Bob Fischer's show.

Download: Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers - BBC Tees Session (30/03/10)

Tracklisting
1. Twisted Mile
2. Draw A Line
3. Hang The Noose

The album is out on the 6th of April. Been looking forward to this one for ages now! If you get a chance pop along and see Ali and the guys live. You won't be disappointed.

Upcoming Gigs
4th April - Oxfam Shop on Byers Road, Glasgow
4th April - Mono, Glasgow (album release party)
6th April - Avalanche Records Store, Glasgow
22nd April - The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh
23rd April - Mad Hatters, Inverness

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Stornoway - BBC 6 Music Session (24/03/10)

With their new single "I Saw You Blink" released on Monday, Stornoway paid Lauren Laverne a visit this morning and performed it along with previous single "Zorbing". Here's the mp3s:

Download: Stornoway - BBC 6 Music Session (24/03/10)

Tracklisting
1. I Saw You Blink
2. Zorbing

The single is out now on Amazon and iTunes.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Haftor Medbøe Group - A Box Of Monkeys


I've had this on my "To Do" list for over 2 months now. After I featured Edinburgh-based Haftor Medbøe Group towards the end of last year, Haftor himself very kindly sent me a copy of recent release "A Box Of Monkeys" as a late Christmas present. So here is my very very late attempt at plugging it.

Now, its fair to say 'experimental jazz' is not gonna be everyone's cup of tea. I really liked the Notwist-y sound of "As Time Spins Backwards" but I wasn't entirely sure how much I'd like an album worth of songs!

Having had listen to it (a few times now given I've been sitting on this review for 2 months! Apologies Haftor) I'm pretty sure now..... I likes it! In particular, the startlingly beautiful Bjork-esque "Leaving Nothing As We Leave". If you fancy something a wee bit different then check them out!


Leaving Nothing As We Leave

Some rave reviews from those in the know:

"unmissable transcendent epic new jazz" - The Skinny
"vivid musical soundscapes" - The List
"a dazzling venture into contemporary jazz" - jazzreview.com



Saturday, 20 March 2010

Ten for 2010 Revisited... Stornoway


Time to have a look at what my tips for 2010 have been getting up to.

Tip #1 was Oxford's finest, Stornoway. It's no secret that I love these guys! Back in December they'd already been longlisted for BBC's Sound of 2010 and had build up a lot of hype with singles "Zorbing" and "Unfaithful", both of which were rated 9/10 by Planet Sound (God rest its soul!).

So what's happened since? Well, Stornoway recently joined the likes of Broken Records, Camera Obscura and The National on the 4AD record label and will release their first single "I Saw You Blink" through them on Monday. I'm pretty sure had Planet Sound still been kicking about, Stornoway would've easily made it 3 outta 3! Have a swatch below...


Thankfully after its release we don't have too long to wait for the bound-to-be-amazing debut album "Beachcomber's Windowsill" on May 24th. If that is too long for you to wait, they've recorded a cover of "Planet Telex" for the Round The Bends album, a reworking of the Radiohead classic "The Bends". Celebrating 5 years of BBC Oxford Introducing... and some of the proceeds from the album will go towards Children In Need. So get yourselves over to iTunes!

And before I forget, they'll be playing a song or two on BBC 6 Music on Wednesday!

The guys are gearing up for their UK tour which even sees them stop over in their Outer Hebridean namesake. Their Scottish tour dates are as follows:

6th April - An Tobar, Mull
7th April - Fired Art, Fort William
8th April - Mad Hatters, Inverness
9th April - Woodlands, Stornoway
10th April - The Arch, Ullapool
11th April - Snafu, Aberdeen
13th April - King Tuts, Glasgow

Got my ticket for the King Tuts gig. I can't wait!

Friday, 19 March 2010

K&A with Cancel The Astronauts


It's fair to say that last year was an amazing year for EPs with Meursault, Jesus H. Foxx, Broken Records and Withered Hand (to name a few of my favourites) all releasing mini musical masterpieces. You'd have been hard pushed though to find a more enjoyable EP than Cancel The Astronauts' "I Am The President Of Your Fanclub And Last Night I Followed You Home". Twenty minutes of the most addictive indie pop you're likely to have heard all year.

And the guys have only gone and put the EP up for FREE download on their bandcamp page! To mark this very generous offer, Matt and Kieran agreed to answer a few Kowestions. You'll like this....

Kowalskiy: So how did the band come about?
Kieran: Matty, Michael and I all went to big school together, back in the day, back in Kilmarnock, and then we shared a flat for a while, back in the other day, here in Edinburgh. Matty had been writing songs and letting me play guitar over the top of them for pretty much all that time, plus Michael owned some synths, so starting a band seemed like the obvious thing to do.
We recruited the Chris through putting adverts on the Gumtree. I forget where we got Neil. I think maybe we sent off for him. Matty?
Matt: Thanks Kieran. If I’m imagining this correctly, then we got Neil free after collecting twelve breakfast cereal tokens. He came in the post, and he was very thirsty.

Kowalskiy: What's the story behind the name "Cancel The Astronauts"?
Kieran: The best story we've come up with for the name is that Matty is deeply religious and doesn't believe we should be up all in God's business like that, but the truth is probably way too mundane to relate. I suppose it was excitingly last minute though -- there we were, demo CD in one hand, marker pen in the other, going 'Well we have to be called something!' And the best we could come up with was Cancel The Bleeding Astronauts, which, you know, why would you want to? Astronauts are great. I think the pressure got to us. We later removed the 'Bleeding'.
For months after we planned on writing an intro song consisting of a big spacey, portentous countdown thing, aborted at the last second and giving way to 'Ladies and Gentlemen: Cancel The Astronauts!' and us, shuffling onto the stage, trying not to giggle. It would have been aces.
Matt: This story contains so many facts it is almost unbelievable.

Kowalskiy: For anyone who doesn't know you already, how would you describe your music?
Kieran: Slightly sinister synthy-indie guitar-pop. It's an all new happening genre.
Matt: I would agree with that. We are getting ever more sinister and scary, which I rather like. Boo!

Kowalskiy: Aaargh! So who or what are your musical influences?
Kieran: I'm going to let Matty bang on about The Smiths here for a bit...
Matt: The Smiths! The Smiths are unquestionably the best band ever, and that can’t be questioned. Morrissey is a bit of an arse these days of course, and I certainly wouldn’t ever want to meet him or be his friend, but his contribution to skinnywhiteboyindieguitarpop cannot be overestimated. He’s the best lyricist ever. Johnny Marr is the best guitarist ever. He seems like a nice chap and Id love to meet him and possibly become his friend and the imagination and sheer overpowering melody of Marr’s guitar lines really cannot be overestimated and his influence over floppyhairedpastyrockguitargods has been unrivalled over the past thirty years and I wet myself a little every time I listen to the end of Well I Wonder and ooh The Smiths The Smiths TheSmithMozfatherSmithsMozzerandMarrandoohhh...
... They are better than Radiohead.
Kieran: That is definitely true.

Kowalskiy: What bands (other than yourselves) would you like to see do well this year?
Kieran: Our indie-pop compatriots Kid Canaveral and Come On Gang! have both got albums out this year, and they're both brilliant, brilliant bands and lovely, so I'd like to see them do well. Also this year will be a big year for French Wives, or I'm a big wrong idiot.
Matt: Babygod. They have a song called "Throw It on the Fire" which, in all seriousness, is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. We've had the enormous privilege of playing with them twice now, and they really are a phenomenal live band. I encourage everyone to go buy their stuff. They don’t play very often but if you do ever get the chance to see them then don’t miss out. Lovely, thoughtful, intelligent people as well.

Kowalskiy: What are your desert island discs?
Kieran: My computer - which knows such intimate things - says my most listened to album is Four Tet's Rounds, so I'd have to take that. Also Elbow's Asleep In The Back. Probably OK Computer, though I imagine most desert islands are lousy with Radiohead records so many people choose them. You'd be tripping over them. The Midnight Organ Fight. Um. Fifa 10.
Matt: Different Class by Pulp. Dizzy Heights by The Lightning Seeds. Definitely Maybe by Oasis. A compilation of Randy Newman's best songs and, ooh, Strangeways Here We Come by, er, The Smiths is it? I am very cool.

Kowalskiy: What can we expect to hear from you in the future?
Kieran: We've just finished mixing our second EP, which I can exclusively (exclusively!) reveal will be called Funny For A Girl and out at a time that we don't know yet. Soon though.
Matt: That is all true, but not so exclusive.

Kowalskiy: What would your dream gig be?
Matt: I’d like to play with Roxy Music. And Talking Heads. And Frightened Rabbit. And Babygod.
Kieran: NASA launchpad. Early evening. Right before launch.
Matt: There is also a band called The Smiths who I’d quite like to play with.
Chris: Whitesnake.
Kieran: Shut up Chris.

Can't wait for the new EP! In the meantime that link again for their free EP is ----> HERE! and if you fancy keeping up to date with all the goings on then heep tabs on their blog too. Oh and there be rather a lot of demos up on their last.fm page too for your downloading pleasure. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

K&A with Beneath Us, The Waves

Its not often you come across someone that the phrase "talented b*****d" doesn't quite do justice to! Neil Milton, the man behind Beneath Us, The Waves is one that falls into this category. He's not content with composing some of the most captivating and atmospheric pieces of music I've heard in a while, and in the case of "Elegy For Tramway", one of the most beautiful too! He is also the man behind the Too Many Fireworks record label and one half of the great We Sink Ships. And I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting!


Neil was kind enough to answer a few (increasingly familiar) questions. Without much further ado, here's his answers:

Kowalskiy: How would you describe your music?
Neil: I'm asked this question a lot and I'm never sure what to say. I normally describe it as a mix of ambient soundscapes and contemporary classical music but some people describe it as minimalist post-rock, others as folktronica (I don't see that one, myself). My favourite description of it so far has been "glacial" but I think that's because ultimately that's what I'm going for.

Kowalskiy: Beneath Us, The Waves are getting some great reviews, you run the Too Many Fireworks record label and you've been working with a lot of amazing up-and-coming bands. How did it all start?
Neil: It all started with my parents... I think; neither is particularly musical but both love music. Growing up, I'd hear my mum's church music or her Scottish folk music and from my dad, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, The Grateful Dead - that whole "west coast" thing so melody and harmony became very important to me. I started playing guitar at 16, formed Troika (my old band) when I was 19 and that's where it all kicked off. The label, too many fireworks, began to release Troika's first e.p. but I enjoyed the experience so much I started releasing other records; amongst others, we had Flying Matchstick Men, Errors, Laeto, Findo Gask and Titus Gein. By 2006 I'd ran out of enthusiasm a little and too many fireworks - and music as a whole - was put on hiatus for a few years as I taught myself photography but We Sink Ships, a collaboration with a friend, pushed me towards music again. Since then, beneath us, the waves has been a gradual evolution from the music I wrote for We Sink Ships - people just seem to really like it.

Kowalskiy: Who or what have influenced you and your music?
Neil: It's no secret, I'm sure, that I'm influenced a great deal by some amazing Icelandic musicians and composers. My favourite band is Sigur Rós but I wouldn't say they influence me too much but I think Jónsi's collaboration with his boyfriend Alex is a definite influence in the way that I try to create the soundscape elements of the songs, using only acoustic or samples of acoustic instruments and found sounds to make the music. For the classical side of things, contemporary composers such as Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter and Arvo Pärt are clear influences, though I also am affected by composers such as J.S. Bach and Chopin - a bit of a hero of mine, though I'll be damned if I can play a fraction of his music. Outside of music, I think I'm influenced a lot by my environment and surroundings.

Kowalskiy: What bands would you like to see do well this year?
Neil: There's an Icelandic band I'm friends with, For A Minor Reflection. Their new album is out later this year and I really hope it makes them a lot better known around the world because they really deserve to be. Scottish bands though? I think I'd like to see more from the Second Hand Marching Band and I'm very excited about The Last Battle. I've heard The Kays Lavelle album recently and I think people will be a bit stunned by it.

Kowalskiy: Incidentally, I seen FAMR at the Glasgow Academy supporting Sigur Rós and thought they were amazing! Next question, what would your desert island disc be?
Neil: ( ) by Sigur Rós. It's the most beautiful album I've heard and I listen to something from it at least once a day, I'm sure.

Kowalskiy: Last of all, what can we expect from you in the future?
Neil: I'll be coming back to Scotland for my first live shows later in March and I'm very excited. I've recruited some incredible strings players and we'll be playing once in Edinburgh and twice in Glasgow over the couple of weeks I'm back, as well as a podcast/radio session or two. After that, I'll be back in Warsaw until July working on my first e.p. and then album before coming back for some further shows in mid-summer. Later in Spring I'll be bringing the label out of retirement for too many fireworks' act II. We've got some really cool ideas and some exciting bands and records lined up but I don't want to say too much more than that. I've also began orchestrating for other bands - something I've wanted to do for a while - and I'm always up for discussing a collaboration or two.

As Neil mentioned, he'll be back in Scotland later this month to play a few shows. You won't be disappointed.

29th March - Roxy Art House, Edinburgh (DJ Set) with Benni Hemm Hemm
30th March - The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh with Euan McMeekan and The Japanese War Effort
1st April - Liquid Ship, Glasgow for Elba Sessions Presents...
12th April - Stereo, Glasgow with Maple Leaves and The Last Battle

Monday, 15 March 2010

...Deathpodal!

Deathpodal is 27-year-old Alastair J. Chivers, a solo multi-instrumentalist based in Glasgow. On the 29th of March he releases his debut EP "Exu__Wow", the first release from new independent Scottish label Electropapknit Records.

Exu__Wow was recorded in a host of different locations, from a portacabin in Stonehaven to the streets of Prague, and features members of Copy Haho and PVH. The end result is quite staggering! In little over 20 minutes Deathpodal has managed to cram in eerie, crunching guitars and sheer noise that Sonic Youth would be proud of, and a fair few mellower moments where strings, organs and metalwork fuse together in a tangled mesh that borders on melodic. A great balance between the two, it really is an EP to stick on, lie back and lose yourself in.

In a slightly warped but wonderful way, his pained cries of "I'll bring you joy" on "Every Superstition Shall Be Removed" sum up the EP for me. Can't wait to hear more. Cracking stuff!

Keep your eyes peeled for some upcoming full band gigs in Glasgow before a tour gets under way in the summer.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers - Off The Beaten Tracks Session

Here's the Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers session for the cracking Off The Beaten Tracks as part of Sick Kids Sunday. The videos, including two songs by Sparrow and the Workshop, can be found here!

Download: Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers - Off The Beaten Tracks session

Tracklisting
1. Draw A Line
2. Twisted Mile

And it's only 4 weeks 'til the album is out!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Cinematics - FemaleFirst.co.uk Session (07/10/09)


The Cinematics took over the offices of FemaleFirst.co.uk back in October, answered a few questions, reviewed a few albums, interviewed The Holloways and Scott performed a few acoustic songs. One from "Love And Terror" and two covers.

Can't help thinking he was sweet-talked into doing one of them...

Download: The Cinematics - Live at FemaleFirst.co.uk (07/10/09)

Tracklisting
1. New Mexico
2. Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead cover)
3. I Kissed A Girl (Katy Perry cover)

Friday, 5 March 2010

Free Fanfarlo US College Radio EP

Don't mean to tread on Peenko's Friday Freebies toes here but it seems a bit of a shame to have to wait another week to get your grubby mitts on this one! Anyone already signed up to the amazing Fanfarlo's mailing list will have just noticed that they are giving away a free 3 track live EP recorded at various college radio stations in the U. S. of A during their recent stint across the pond.

All three tracks appeared on last years "Reservoir" album (Kowalskiy Top 5 album no less!). Just sign up HERE!

Tracklisting
1. I'm A Pilot
2. Finish Line
3. The Walls Are Coming Down

Thursday, 4 March 2010

K&A with Foxgang

The third K&A Session is with the fantastically quirky "Scottish Alt-pop" Foxgang. I caught up with Joe and Ryan from the band and posed them a few questions. Here's what they had to say...

Kowalskiy: How did the band come about?
Ryan: Joe and I with some other guys met in Krakow, quickly put together our sets and were playing up to 3 hour gigs to a large following. We played on TV and festivals and received a record label offer before we decided we wanted the UK to be the place we get a record deal. Krakow was a great place to develop our own brand of pop without too much influence from 'the trendy' as it would seem in the UK
Joe: That's right. It was a crazy place, with no rules and no monitors on stage.

Kowalskiy: What's the story behind the name Foxgang?
Ryan: Given the varying topics of our songs and musical climate of our more quirky pieces, we chose the name when looking for a group involved some way in politics or news yet people of an obscure role. We found there is a 'Foxgang' group within the European governance that we still today have no idea of their job just the silly group pics. And second a Fox gang within Fox news. We felt this name represented peoples general confusion as to the changing political landscapes and the endless panic of the media All taken in humour. And we had an animal as an added bonus to disguise we are agents of indie-pop.
Joe: It looks a bit German if you stare at it for long enough, providing the promoter has spelt it as one word.

Kowalskiy: How would you describe your sound?
Ryan: Happening, unafraid, quirky, emotional, whole grained.
Joe: Honest and Uplifting.

Kowalskiy: Who or what are your musical influences?
Ryan: I have more influences outside of music and I like to steal good things from many great bands/songs new and old and mash them together in a controlled visualised manner to allow licence for some of the things I say.
Joe: Mississippi John Hurt.

Kowalskiy: What bands (other than yourselves) would you like to see do well in 2010?
Ryan: White Heath, Washington Irving, Casino Brag.
Joe: The same. Sparrow and the Workshop too, though I don't think they need my prayers 'cause they seem to be doing alright! I would like to see The Strokes record another blinding album.

Kowalskiy: What are your desert island discs?
Ryan: Anything I took I would eventually be sick of but 'LKJ in Dub' or some reggae for the context, Xmas songs for Xmas, Rolf Harris Sings, no Johnny Cash or The Boss, Hot Chip 'Warning,' Stevie Wonder -'Talking Book,' and any Snow Patrol for me to cast out to sea never to be seen or listened to again other than by Sting.
Joe: I guess Sting finds Snow Patrol in a Message in a Bottle. Is that the reference there? Or just that they are both Douchebags? 'Born to Run,' 'Johnny Cash at San Quentin,' 'Blood on the Tracks,' 'Fear of Music,' 'White Album,' 'DC Recordings' of Mississippi John Hurt.

Kowalskiy: What can we expect from the band in the future?
Ryan: This spring we launch our promo single and video to our debut album (also in Spring) and a UK tour. Festivals, finger pointing and self criticism but mainly just delivering a passionate and colourful live sound to our faithful fans. More releases on Tentracks.co.uk.
Joe: Amen! We really aim to become legendary is some sense of the word. I would have said 'colorful live sound' but Ryan and I have our differences.

Kowalskiy: Last of all, what would your dream gig be?
Ryan: Us, now, with the aforementioned up coming bands, in a 500 capacity venue of real, real atmosphere; dark and dirty but with good time-served sound equipment with a proper promoter and a crowd well up for bouncing it out. Failing that a field of 50,000 glasto goers with Talking Heads and La Roux and Rolf Harris. Oh, they would sell everyone Snake-bite and black but plenty dope to take the edge off and other. And all free!!
Joe: Open for The Boss backed by Kraftwork and Feat. Lady Gaga in Awaria, which is the Cracovian Cavern Club. No monitors. Optional 5 Zloty donation.

If that's whetted your appetite, here's two tracks for you to try out: The Talking Heads influenced "Leith Walk" and the cracking "A Lot More Goes On (In A Year)". Both are available on Tentracks.co.uk for the bargain price of 30p each!

Leith Walk

A Lot More Goes On (In A Year)

There's one or two gigs coming up if you fancy catching their 'colourful live sound' in all its glory
Upcoming Gigs
6 Mar (tomorrow) - FLOWERS IN THE DUSTBIN RECORDS presents at 13th Note, Glasgow
27 Mar - Verden Whistle Test 1 (DVD taping) at Verden Studios, Edinburgh
20 Apr - Fashion & Music at Capitol, Glasgow

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

...Findlay Napier!


This little gem just popped into my Inbox! A wee while ago I posted about the first ever Hazy Recollections afternoon in Glasgow showcasing some of the finest 'nu-folk' acts in the country. With another in the pipeline at Stereo on Easter Sunday, Findlay Napier (one half of the brains behind the event) and The Bar Room Mountaineers are offering new single "Raise A Glass" for free by signing up to their mailing list at http://www.findlaynapier.com.


"It’s the eight thirty commute, the four thirty clock-watch, the stream of pointless meetings, management reshuffles and training days. ‘Raise a Glass’ is the mantra for the burned out office drone. The over-commuted, under paid, over looked and shuffled under soldiers of the workplace."

Well worth getting your hands on this "rousing anthem" folks. Here's the tour details...

6 Mar - The Blackstairs Lounge, Wick
7 Mar - Hootenanny, Inverness
11 Mar - The Acoustic Music Club, Kirkcaldy (solo)
4 Apr - HAZY RECOLLECTIONS at Stereo, Glasgow (2pm Start)
10 Jun - Arran Folk Festival, Brodick

Didn't manage to make it along to the first Hazy Recollections in January but from what I hear it could well be a regular on the Glasgow music scene. Seems wise to get in on the act early!