Thursday, 30 September 2010

...Weather Barn!

Say hello to East Coast purveyors of catchy, countrified Shins-esque indie, Weather Barn. Their debut single Park Hands was released earlier this month on Kittiwake Records and is an absolute cracker! Here's bassist Steve Morris to fill you in on a few of the details...

Kowalskiy: Who are Weather Barn?
Steve: Weather Barn is myself on bass, my brother Matt on guitar and lead vox, Daryl Rankin on guitar and Iain Dallas on drums. We're an indie rock band from Aberdeen, Scotland. Each of us have been in bands before, but Weather Barn is a totally new project, so it's a pretty exciting time for all of us.

Kowalskiy: You have just released debut single Park Hands. What can we expect from it?
Steve: That song has a little bit of everything in it! When Matt first wrote and demo'd it, it sounded really country! But after we jammed it and fleshed it out with the band, it really became an indie-pop tune. Matt's lyrics to Park Hands are full of humour and frustration so it's a good track to get everyone riled up. We recorded it with Stuart Macleod, who has previously worked with artists such as Amy Macdonald and The Dykeenies, in Glasgow.

<a href="">Park Hands by Weather Barn</a>

Kowalskiy: And what can we expect from the band in the future?
Steve: Touring as much as possible, for the rest of time! We've spent a lot of time getting the new band ready and rehearsing non stop, so it'll be good to play to people around the country. We will be recording for another single sometime soon, but for now we are just looking forward to hitting the road. Its easy to get carried away making plans for the years ahead, but at the moment it feels more fun to just take it as it comes! There are so many cracking bands in Scotland at the moment. We want to play shows with them all!

On the back of Park Hands, I'm sure there'll be bands queuing up to play with Weather Barn too! Park Hands can be bought from the band's bandcamp page as a 3-track CD or 2-track download. I like it. I like it a lot!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

K&A with Panda Su

(left to right: Panda Su, panda)

Like a lot of other Scottish acts out there, Fife's Panda Su is someone whose name I'd heard and "always meant to getting around to listening to". Earlier this month I finally managed to have a listen when she took to the stage at Glasgow's Oran Mor supporting Beerjacket. First thing I did when I got home was buy her 2009 debut Sticks and Bricks EP. and the second, was to chance my arm and see if she'd be up for an interview. It's safe to say that not only did I love what I heard, but she said "yes" too. Take it away Su....

Kowalskiy: Who is Panda Su?
Panda Su: Hello. My name is Su Shaw and I am Panda Su. There is only one of me, however, there are always at least 2 of us on stage. Sometimes there are 3 of us, occasionally 4; but always 2.

Kowalskiy: When did you first start making music, and what's the idea behind the name?
Su: I first started making music when I was 10, on a Yamaha keyboard that I got for Christmas. I used to re-write the lyrics to Edelweiss and House of The Rising Sun. I started writing music as Panda Su early 2008.

Panda’s are quite solitary creatures and I’m quite a private person. I wanted a name that would reflect my music and an image that would be recognizable. A panda was the perfect fit.

Kowalskiy: How would you describe 'your sound'?
Su: I’d list my music under Alternative Folk/Dark Pop. Someone once called it ‘gentle, melodic, colourful music which curls up in your head’. I like that.

Kowalskiy: Who/what/where are your main musical influences?
Su: Where I live is a big influence on my music. I suppose I have the same influences as everyone else – places I’ve been, people I know, and things that have had an impact on me – but I write about them in a less obvious way.

Kowalskiy: You released your Sticks and Bricks EP last year. What was the story behind it, and what has Panda Su been up to since then?
Su: The songs on Sticks and Bricks were the first I ever wrote as Panda Su. I had planned to record them myself and only ever intended to make a handful of copies to sell whilst on my travels. I was then introduced to Steve (Mason) and after I played him the demos, we decided to work together. The EP was finally released in October of last year and the response has been really positive, which I’m really grateful for.

Since then, I’ve been playing lots of shows around Scotland and England and was lucky enough to play sets at some great festivals this Summer, including Secret Garden Party, Belladrum and Wickerman.

Kowalskiy: I recently seen you support Beerjacket at Oran Mor. It was an amazing gig, though maybe a bit unusual. How'd you find the candlelit table setup?
Su: It’s difficult to gage the audience’s reaction when it’s so dark and everyone is so quiet – but we enjoyed playing. We’ve played Oran Mor before but it was nice to finally share a bill with Peter (Beerjacket) as we’d talked about doing a gig together for ages.

Kowalskiy: While we're on the subject, what would be your ideal gig?
Su: The venue would be somewhere secluded, and completely inaccessible by foot. There would be heavy snowfall outside. We’d share the bill with Arcade Fire. There would be a log fire. Bon Iver would fish for our supper. The XX would be our roadies. Zooey Deschanel would be my best friend. There would be a dance off with Darwin Deez.

Kowalskiy: What's been your Panda Su highlight so far?
Su: There’s been a few – being able to play at festivals I’d never been to before, like Secret Garden Party and Moseley Folk Festival. Hearing Eric is Dead on the season finale of Skins. Playing the Karnival de Kulturen in Berlin was my favourite gig this year. Afterwards, someone asked me to sign their face for €10.

Kowalskiy: What other bands are you listening to at the moment?
Su: Right now I’m listening to School of Seven Bells and The National. Lyrically, I’m a big fan of Death Cab for Cutie and Sufjan Stevens.

Kowalskiy: And lastly, what can we all expect from Panda Su in the future?
Su: We’ve got one last gig at Bloc in Glasgow next month and then I’m taking the rest of the year off to record the next EP, which will be out in February. This will be followed by a UK tour and a visit to Europe to play some shows later on in the year.

Sticks and Bricks is available from Amazon MP3 by clicking on the artwork above and here from iTunes.

How To Swim - Retina (or More Fun than a Vat of Love)

On the 1st of June 2008, I went along to the first (and last??) ever Sauchiehall Crawl in Glasgow. Back then, I'd bought tickets with with the sole intention of seeing two bands, both of which the dearly-departed Planet Sound had raved about: Broken Records and The Twilight Sad. It was the other band joining them on the ABC2 bill that night that took my breath away! That band was Glasgow's orchestral indie merchants How To Swim.

Well, after their It Stings When I EP and The Littlest Orgasm mini-album (both currently available on bandcamp), they're back with debut full-length release Retina (or More Fun Than a Vat of Love) on 4th October.

With that subtitle, this album has got a lot to live up to. That's a lot of love that's been promised! Thankfully, it's a promise that How To Swim make good on. Retina is outstanding! From the somewhat sinister French horn opening of Diego Whirlwind to the fanfarical trumpet ending of It's Alright, the album is, for want of a better word, perfect. Sandwiched in between those two tracks are eight equally amazing ones, all of which I'd gladly rave about. As I'm quite a lazy blogger though, let's just take two of them.

The fantastic Diego Whirlwind <a href="">Diego Whirlwind by How To Swim</a> is the tale of a sword-swallowing, prison 'go-to' guy, set to a seamless layering of those eerie horns, tinkling keys and epic, urgent trumpets, with a minute-long, stunning acapella harmony to finish things off. The 6-and-a-half minute Ink Wilson's World of Fear is a mini-musical in itself. A gentle, piano opening gives way to yet more cracking trumpet arrangements, at times evoking images bordering on burlesque! Both songs showcase How to Swim's unmistakable quality and attention to detail.

How to sum the album up in 3 words? Meticulous musical mastery!

Gregor Barclay, a.k.a. Ink Wilson himself recently explained that Diego Whirlwind is part of an as-of-yet unfinished musical that may one day find itself performed at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Consider mine the first name on any petition to make this happen! Until then, there's the little matter of the album launch gig at Stereo this Friday, with support from Over The Wall and The Low Miffs.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Cancel The Astronauts - Funny For A Girl EP

Yeah, OK, so I've already kinda reviewed this in Kowalskiy Belated Review #1, but when the opportunity to get a band's insight into their own music presents itself, I can't bring myself to say no. Especially when it's creepy pop sensations, and all round nice guys, Cancel The Astronauts. Having loved their debut I Am The President Of Your Fanclub (And Last Night I Followed You Home) EP, ("twenty of the most addictive indie pop you're likely to hear all year" to self-quote) I was understandably, eagerly awaiting the follow up, Funny For A Girl EP.

Like in my first K&A with this mob, I grilled frontman Matt Riley and guitarist Kieran McCaffrey about the EP. Here goes...

Kowalskiy: You've finally released Funny For A Girl, the follow-up to last years I Am The President... EP. As Baby Spice once said ... what took you so long?
Matt: We recorded most of it in a studio in a week before Fanclub was even released, but it turned out we were horribly ill-prepared so we re-did lots of guitars and synth and then remixed it. Inexplicably this process took a year and you can't even tell. Hilariously. We will be faster next time.
Kieran: The first EP took a bloody age as well though, and we had Serious Discussions about not letting the second one take so long – we thought going into a real studio to do it was the answer. It wasn’t. Now we’re having similar Serious Discussions about not letting our next release take so long. It’s possible we’re spending entirely too much time having Serious Discussions and not enough doing recording.

Kowalskiy: How does Funny For A Girl compare to I Am The President....?
Matt: It's the same? But better? A bit? Something like Standing Still is obviously quite different from all the super poppy stuff that came before it, but largely it's the same record. The two were written very closely together and could easily work together as an album.
Kieran: That said, we don’t recommend listening to them as an album, ‘cos the tracklisting wouldn’t work unless you monkeyed about with it, and they’ve been mastered differently, so it would be an ultimately unsatisfying experience. Also, I forgot to say in my last answer that another reason Funny For A Girl took so long was that we dropped a song entirely after we’d recorded most of it in the studio. It was called I Hate You All And I Wish You Were Dead, and Matty was keen for the EP to be called that too. Luckily(?) we dropped it in favour of ‘She Said…’

Kowalskiy: Is it true that the song Funny For A Girl was inspired by Rhona Cameron?
Matt: Ronnie Ancona actually.

Kowalskiy: On that note, French or Saunders?
Matt: Saunders mate. Easy.
Kieran: Or.

Kowalskiy: Was She Said She Loves Somebody Else written about anyone's personal experiences?
Matt: Yes, but I couldn't possibly say who. That would be insensitive and distasteful. However, if you buy my autobiography (available in all good supermarkets for £5.99) a ghostwriter will tell you exactly who it's about.
Kieran: £5.99 is a bargain. Jimmy Page’s is four hundred and fifty quid more expensive than that, and he’s just a guitarist. Who could be interested in that?

Kowalskiy: One of your great reviews for FFAG has commented that Standing Still shows the band are quite adept at turning their hand to post-rock. Can we expect more of this in future? Are you trying to shake your creepy pop image?
Matt: We have a song called Lekking that's even more post-rock than that one. Loud noises are definitely something I want to explore further, but only ever with the singular aim of making our pop even creepier.
Kieran: If you were transcribing the intro to Lekking, you’d just have to write ‘nuclear winter’ across the score. Post-rock is my favourite.

Kowalskiy: The EP once again features amazing artwork by Ulla Saar. How did the collaboration come about?
Matt: I honestly can't remember. It was years ago though when we first started that we met via the internets. Ulla is a mad fan of Edinburgh bands, she's done artwork for Butcher Boy and she visits the city occasionally so she probably found us. We sent her a copy of our demo CD and she sent us a framed drawing. She's done some of the album artwork already and it's great.
Kieran: Yeah, we were doing everything short of carpet bombing to get our demo out into the world, and we sort of said we’d send one, free, anywhere in the world if people sent us a message asking for one. We sent one to Ulla in Estonia and she sent back some really great artwork, just to say thanks. Ulla rocks.

Kowalskiy: Can we expect a Cheryl Tweedy cover to slip onto the next EP/album? Would love to hear Cancel the Astronauts take on Fight For This Love.
Matt: We have a song called Promises of Strangers which is my attempt at writing a Girls Aloud song. That's as close as you'll get to a Cheryl cover. I don't like covers. Waste of a song.
Kieran: I thought polite society had agreed that ‘Fight For This Love’ was an abomination anyway. Cheryl should just have gone home after she did ‘Biology’. There’s no topping that. Of course, if she did go home, there’s always the chance that Matty would already be there, waiting for her, smiling. Maybe that’s what keeps her working.

Kowalskiy: What can we expect in the future from thee best unsigned band in the land?
Matt: Do you mean Babygod? You must mean Babygod, you can't be talking about us surely? Very nice if you are though... From us you can expect an album next year, hopefully preceded by some sort of EP/Single download. No firm plans as yet mind.
Kieran: Also, a music video! We’re working with another great artist, it’s all animated, and it’s got puppets, and falling over, and it’ll be done next month. We’re dead excited.

Kowalskiy: Lastly, is there anything you shouldn't you tell me, but you will because you have/want to?
Matt: Go and buy the revelatory new autobiography by Cancel the Astronauts' Matt Riley. It's called Standing, Still The Matt Riley Story and you can find out my deepest darkest secrets.
Kieran: You’ve thought too hard about that.

So, for all your creepy pop needs, head over to Cancel The Astronauts' bandcamp page and get your pennies out!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

K&A with Zoobizaretta

Time for the second K&A this week. This time around, it's Glasgow's pop septet, and the age old answer to the question, "What Scottish band begins with 'Z'?". It's Zoobizaretta. With their Stars-esque debut album Foam & Leachate launched tomorrow at The Captain's Rest in Glasgow, I caught up with vocalists Matt Clark and Marlous Peterse to hear their thoughts on the album, how the band got together, and which seemingly clean-cut member of the band is really a wanted man! Take it away folks....

Kowalskiy: Who are Zoobizaretta?
Matt: Toby is our explosives expert, Wullie is muscle, Jay drives the getaway car, Marlous is a martial arts virtuoso, Lynsey is a world-renowned computer hacker and Ali is human resources. I make the tea.

Kowalskiy: How did you all get together and what's the story behind the name?
Marlous: Some through having been to school together, others via a joint rejection from a previous musical outfit and deciding we could probably make some music ourselves, and others again through 'oh I know a guy/girl' answers to questions asked by Matt if we knew anyone who plays the (insert any random instrument here) to go with one of the songs.
Story behind the name - is there one? I think mainly I was just told...Matt, was it a Jay and you call?
Matt: We've had a few line-up changes, but we roughly all met at uni. It's just a fun word to say. like moist or flange.

Kowalskiy: For anyone who's not heard the band, how would you describe 'your sound'?
Matt: Bob Hoskins going mental inside a dustbin.
Marlous: A similar feel to Arcade Fire, Malcolm Middleton, Frightened Rabbit and (apparently) Black Box Recorder, although I have never heard of the latter. Whatever you imagine indie rock/pop from a 7 piece band from Glasgow with male & female vocals to sound like probably

Kowalskiy: Who/what/where influences you.... other than Spanish goalkeeping legends?
Matt: I started putting the band together when I saw Brakes at King Tut's. It's all their fault.

Kowalskiy: You are about to release your debut album Foam & Leachate. What's the story behind the album, the title, and what can we expect from it?
Marlous: The story is we finally managed to be organised enough (terminology used in the very loosest sense) to get into the studio and record stuff, and also that we found poor Mark Whitelaw willing to spend random hours here & there recording and infinity hours twiddling with stuff. We like making music, have been doing it for a long time and felt the tunes were deserving of an album. As a band, Zoobizaretta are careful to have expectations for fear of subsequent disappointment, however, a warm reception from Scottish audiences and a quietly growing status as solid indie band to look out for would be what we hope for. That and eventual total world domination of course.
Matt: Foam & Leachate were my childhood hamsters. Not a day goes by when i don't miss those furry bastards. The album is dedicated to them, so if you're a fan of domesticated rodents - check it out!

Kowalskiy: To launch the album you have a few gigs coming up. Plug away! What's a typical Zoobizaretta gig like anyway?
Matt: We're in the Captain's Rest in Glasgow on Friday, Sneaky Pete's in Embra on Saturday and Cape in Stirling on Sunday. Provided we're not overly pissed at any stage it should be great.
Marlous: Typical gig...hmmmm - fairly ramshackle, but always with the best intentions! We are on stage to have a good time and generally the audience tends to get that idea. Plus they seem to have a good time and like the tunes as well. There is occasionally some element of fancy dress (animal masks are a staunch favorite), the crowd are invited to sing along to our 'theme tune' if we decide to play it, food-stuffs related jokes may be told (generally about cheese or potatoes).

Kowalskiy: What would be your ideal gig?
Marlous: On the moon with Chuck Norris as the only audience member.
Matt: Do you remember when Brian May played the guitar on top of Buckingham Palace for the Queen's jubilee? Well, the exact opposite of that.

Kowalskiy: What's been the highlight of being in the band so far?
Matt: Every day is more special than the last. Except all the ones that are shit.

Kowalskiy: What can we expect from Zoobizaretta in the future?
Marlous: More excellent tunes, more randomly named albums (hopefully), more exquisite on-stage costuming, more sing-along feel good hits. some more tambourining and possibly the addition of cowbell.
Matt: Under-achievement, lethargy and general confusion. Probably another album next year.

Kowalskiy: Lastly, anything you'd like to add?
Marlous: The name is pretty weird. Also one of 'em is Dutch.
Matt: Contrary to the nice guy persona that Toby Ross likes to convey, he is in fact a wanted sex pest.

Explosives expert AND sex pest?? It's always the nice ones! Anyhoo, the album is launched this weekend with shows at The Captain's Rest, Glasgow (tomorrow), Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh (Saturday) and Cape, Stirling (Sunday) where you can get your hands on this cracking album. Fancy a wee taster?? Go on then...

Zoobizaretta - Hope

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Broken Records - Let Me Come Home

Thee most anticipated Scottish album of the year, from the best Scottish band out there, will be released in just over a month. Let Me Come Home is the follow-up to Broken Records' amazing debut album Until The Earth Begins To Part. This week, album and tour details were revealed, making me one very happy Kowalskiy. It'll be released on 25th October. Here's the tracklisting:

1. A Leaving Song
2. Modern Worksong
3. Dia dos Namorados!
4. The Motorcycle Boy Reigns
5. A Darkness Rises Up
6. Ailene
7. I Used To Dream
8. You Know You’re Not Dead
9. The Cracks In The Wall
10. Home

Apart from the lead single A Darkness Rises Up, and the free download A Leaving Song, which I both recognise from the last time I seen them, I have no idea what the album sounds like. I have no doubt though, that it's gonna be amazing!

To get your free download of the opening track, sign up to their mailing list below!

And here's the tour details:

2nd November - The Deaf Institute, Manchester
3rd November - The Harley, Sheffield
5th November - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
6th November - HMV Institute, Birmingham
7th November - The Cooler, Bristol
10th November - The Hope, Brighton
12th November - The Arches, Glasgow
13th November - Bogbairn Farm, Inverness
14th November - The Tunnels, Aberdeen

Kowalskiy Belated Review #2

Hold the Suspect - Are You Home Yet?
Once again, there's been too many cracking releases I've been asked to review recently and I've fallen behind. The first is this great wee EP from Edinburgh's Hold the Suspect. Comparisons with fellow Scots Biffy Clyro and The Xcerts are bound to be made based on the opening, title track which is punchy and laden with some seriously catchy riffs. It's the next two songs though, Dive Into The Sun and Glass Half Full, that jump out at you. While the first is a reminiscent of Transformers-era Linkin Park (my guilty pleasure), the latter starts off as a surprising, stunning ballad with friend-of-the-band Freya Binning's angelic backing vocals, before exploding into life. All this before the all-guns-blazing finale of Society. It's only a few quid, so get it bought!

The Paraffins - Snout To The Grindstone
Technically speaking, as this cracking, crazy album isn't released until Monday, this review isn't belated. But given the time it's taken me to write about it, it feels that way. The Paraffins (or Billy) hail from the 'remote Scottish outpost of Knockentiber', and Snout To The Grindstone is the first in what will hopefully be many albums. Opener Untitleable is a taster of what the album has in store: hypnotic rattling, tribal drumming, high pitched wails and warped growls.... all in just over a minute! The rest is a bit more structured, with layer upon layer of sounds (conventional or otherwise), built up like Talking Heads going off theirs! Standout tracks are Something Good and the frantic People Like You which invites comparisons with Punch & the Apostles. To be honest though, the cover art sums the album up better than I can. It'll mess with your mind. A quite remarkable, musical mind f**ck!

Call To Mind - EP
It's been 2 years since I first seen Inverness' Call To Mind at King Tuts (in their fetching white rainsuits) threatening to steal the show from the headline act Broken Records. Since then, the band have been busy recording their debut eponymous EP. Finally, the fruit of their labour was released back in March. Every bit as captivating as their live show, this EP is great! It 'calls to mind' the atmospheric soundscapes of Sigur Ros with a dark, moody, almost Joy Divisionesque feel to it. The opening and closing tracks, A9 and I Have A Photograph, are proof you don't have to be Icelandic to pull this sound off. I don't know who coined the phrase, but if this is 'Highland glacial pop', then this is it at its very best!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

K&A with Mammoeth

I really ought to start listening to other bloggers! For ages I'd heard murmurings of a band called Mammoeth, but it wasn't until I discovered that the man behind the name was none other than The Kays Lavelle violinist Russell Kostulin, did I head over to his bandcamp for a listen. After the third song on his debut album Nascent I'd already heard enough to get my wallet out and buy it. Great, quirky pop, like the bastard lovechild of The Divine Comedy and The Beatles. Lap it up folks!

Here's Russell to fill you in on a few things...

Kowalskiy: Who is/are Mammoeth?
Russell: Mammoeth is my ego, my superego, my id and a carousel of friends and siblings who help augment the sound and get the live performances sounding something close to what it is on record. I suppose I should also include Robin my producer who has a fairly big role in making the record sound like it does.

Kowalskiy: How did Mammoeth start, and what's the story behind the name?
Russell: Mammoeth started with me messing around in my spare room on my laptop just recording snippets of songs I had lying around - I'd been in a band before Mammoeth so I had a bunch of songs which were left over or never used for whatever reason. I wanted to give them a home, explore some ideas and just generally see what I was about so I bought Pro Tools and started making some very poor quality demos, even for demos they were poor, but as these things go they had a certain charm to them. Some of the ideas worked and some didn't and so some made the cut as I got more ambitious and some fell by the wayside. I write all the time so I've got loads of things lying around, a lot of which is not worth listening to, honestly, so that will sit there until I have the time to demo it - I will have to demo them at some stage though cos it's very frustrating not knowing what they'll turn out like - a bit like say if you have a child who gets to 4 and a half but never gets passed that so you never see that child grow up and mature and fulfil its potential - I'd imagine, I have no kids and certainly not one that stays the same age.

The story behind the name is fairly mundane - I was involved in a massive road accident on a motorway that involved several cars and a lorry and the last thing I remember about it was careering towards a big red truck with the word Mammoet on the side of it. Mammoet are a Dutch haulage company I believe.

Kowalskiy: That's your idea of mundane!?! How would you describe 'your sound'? Don't undersell it now!
Russell: Very melodic (or as melodic as I can make it) alternative pop with the instrumental kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. The songwriting is fairly theoretical, I like 7ths and passing chords and diminsheds and dreaded jazz chords and stuff because it seems to free up melodic ideas. I'd like to study composition at some point cos I'm sure there are some basic things that I'm missing out on - all the stuff I've learnt has been through trial and error so there will be loads that I don't know about.

Kowalskiy: Who/what/where influences your music?
Russell: Lots of things do really, everything I hear, whether its a vintage advert from the '50s or something that sounds like it's from the future - I think if you're interested in sound then anything can be interesting and therefore influential. Everyone goes on their own (clich├ęd) 'journey of discovery' I think with music, and so some stuff you come up with has been done a million times and other things will be completely new and fresh. Some people will get there once and it will be pot luck, I think the good ones maybe get there 3 or 4 times, and the great ones maybe 10 times or more but I think you just have to keep trying. A bit of a tangent there but in terms of influences the main one when I started Mammoeth was Sufjan Stevens but I've kind of moved away from that now (as he has by the sound of things floating around the interweb) and I'm more interested in modern pop and what makes it tick. I think the next record will either be heavily influenced by modern pop or it will be a darker version of what I did last time - I have albums 2, 3 and 4 written musically so I'm not sure which one comes next. We'll see.

Kowalskiy: Your debut album Nascent was released at the end of July on mini50
records. What's the story (if any) behind it?
Russell: It was, there's not really a story as such - I toiled for maybe 10 years writing tunes and then eventually plucked up the chutzpah to do something with them, as I say, I made some demos, gave them to some people, some of them made their way to a producer in Manchester (Robin Housman - he also produced the Magic Arm album which is really good, you should check that out) and we met up, got on really well based on similar tastes and aesthetic principles and started recording a few tunes. We only planned an EP at first but we got on so well we decided to record more. I still see him very regularly and we've worked on a number of other projects since then, we're always recording things together and writing stuff - it's a pain he lives in Manchester though cos I live in Edinburgh. He's more of a collaborator now - I imagine that he'll have quite a big impact on the sound of the next record - I guess that's a producer's job mind you...

Kowalskiy: Your website had rumours of an autumn tour with The Kays Lavelle. Please tell us that's true, and if so, are there anymore details yet?
Russell: Unfortunately the tour has fallen to pieces, I'm sorry to say. It got cancelled a couple of weeks ago which is a real shame - I don't know the reasons, I think there are a few of them, it's complicated as they say. Just now there are no firm touring plans but we'll get something sorted soon I'm sure. We're going to do a couple of single releases later in the year and maybe early next year.

Kowalskiy: What would be your ideal gig?
Russell: My ideal gig would probably be supporting Sufjan Stevens and then playing as part of his backing band. I suspect I probably shouldn't say my ideal gig would be a support slot... I don't have world domination plans of my own so I wouldn't want to play an arena, the sound is always crap anyway. I reckon the venue might be a concert hall or something, like maybe the Usher Hall in Edinburgh or maybe the Barbican in London, although the Camden Roundhouse always looks good when I've seen that. I'd support Sufjan, he'd maybe come on for a song or two with me, I'd have an orchestral backing (maybe the London Phil or something...) and the Sufjan would go on with me playing guitar or violin or banjo or whatever he wanted me to play really, maybe singing some backing vocals. He'd of course have an orchestral backing too, otherwise it wouldn't be fair. The other support act would be Nick Lowe or something playing Jesus of Cool from start to finish, although everyone would leave after he'd done that and we'd be an anti climax I suppose so maybe Ben Gibbard doing a solo acoustic set or something again with some collaboration. I'd get Metallica's roadies cos nobody would mess and maybe I'd get the Hell's Angels to do security, provided they undergo some health and safety courses.

Kowalskiy: What else does the future hold in store for Mammoeth?
Russell: Well as I say we'll do some singles later in the year and I'm hoping that we'll start recording a few tracks for the next album either later this year or at the start of next. We'll see. I'm hoping I can release a new one next year but it really depends on how much time I've got, it takes ages and there are already a few projects in the diary for next year so I'm not sure I'll fit it in. Fingers crossed though, it'd be nice to do a quick follow up given it's pretty much written already.

Kowalskiy: Lastly, if it's not being too morbid, what would you like to have achieved before you die?
Russell: Ah, to avoid the obvious "someone" answer, I'd like to have eked out all my musical creativity and said all that I wanted to say, in short I suppose I'd like to finish my life as a spent force. I don't mind when I become "spent" but as long as it happens before I die that would be fine with me. There's also loads of non-musical things I want to have done before I die like procreate and visit Australia and stuff. But musically, if I can die a spent force I guess in some way I'll be happy.

<a href="">I Want To Be Someone When I Die by Mammoeth</a>

The stunning Nascent is out now on CD with download on Mammoeth's bandcamp page.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Miniature Dinosaurs - Define Pop Session (14/09/10)

I think I may have found my new favourite band. I've certainly found my favourite radio show, and when both of them came together this week, something great happened! And here it is:

Download: Miniature Dinosaurs - Define Pop Session (14/09/10)

1. (I Want to Watch) Top Gear
2. Write Back
3. Cold Shoulder
4. Maine, USA

This cracking acoustic session from Stirling's Miniature Dinosaurs helped mark the welcome return of Subcity Radio's Define Pop show, back for the start of the new term. It features their debut single Top Gear, tracks from their debut EP Chatterbox, and new single Cold Shoulder which is out on 11th October. You can read my review and mini-interview with Barry Dino here, and remember to tune into Define Pop every Tuesday from 11am-1pm for the best in new Scottish music and some more great live sessions.

SHe'S HiT / Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers - Split 7" Single

SHe'S HiT - Dirty Surf Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers - Can't Stop
Time now for yet another great split 7" single. Glasgow post-punk outfit SHe'S HiT have teamed up with Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers to release a split 7" single through their own label RE:PEATER RECORDS. In true independent label fashion, each item is numbered, be it their MySpace (RPR002) or the single itself (RPR004).

For RPR004, their first official release, they've delivered an absolute belter of a single. SHe'S HiT's RE:PEATER is dark, punchy and really f**cking good. The other offering, Can't Stop, is dirty, but melodic, and every bit as great. The Yates' know how rock 'n' roll should sound!

The single is out on 18th October, but before that, tonight sees the official RE:PEATER RECORDS launch at The 13th Note in Glasgow with both bands joined by Fur Hood.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #3

It's the 16th and for a change, Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP is on time! Once again I've teamed up with 5 of my favourite Scottish bands to bring you 5 great tracks. This month on EP #3, we have the following lovely people:

1. Over The Wall - Shifts (the opening track from their upcoming album)

"The song is the first track on our debut album 'Treacherous' which will come out on Motive Sounds in November. We wanted something really immediate to start the album, and I remember we described the beat for this as 'The Timbaland Beat' when we were working on it, it's supposed to make you want to move. Lyrically it's about escape, trying to get away and feeling like circumstances are pinning you down. There are a couple of Springsteen references in there to bring that theme out (see if you can find them!) again for kicking the album off that seemed appropriate." - Gav Prentice (Over The Wall)

2. Penguins Kill Polar Bears - Wish With Worry (track from the debut album... but not this mix)

"Wish With Worry from Penguins Kill Polar Bears will be making an appearance on their debut album due for release summer 2011. In the meantime goto for downloads and upcoming gigs." - Murray Reid (PKPB manager)

3. How To Swim - Diego Whirlwind (from their amazing upcoming album RETINA)

"The track was written for a musical we were developing about a dude out at sea in a rowboat with holes in it. The only way he can prevent the boat filling with water is to cover the holes with his hands and feet. If he falls asleep, his hands will come off the holes and the boat will sink, so he tries to stay awake long enough to be rescued. As he does this, he begins to hallucinate. Various characters appear to him - some living, some dead, some yet to be born (it's set in Spanish waters in the 1600s) - including this one guy who talks endlessly about this dude called Diego Whirlwind who he met in prison, who was the go-to guy if you wanted something smuggled inside. (This is on account of Whirlwind's past as a sword-swallower.) 'Diego Whirlwind', the song, is the tune that the other guy sings, telling the story of his friend. We might do the musical at the fringe someday, if we can get it finished. 'Genesis P and Me' is also from it - Genesis P Orridge and his wife both appear as characters." - Gregor Barclay (How To Swim)

4. Come On Gang! - Fortune Favours The Brave (Wolfjazz remix) (exclusive remix of their recent single)

"This is the second of our songs remixed by Edinburgh DJ and good friend Wolfjazz. We've always loved playing at his club night Trade Union and, as a thank you, he remixed our tune Spinning Room last summer - so when we got the album masters back, we immediately sent them to the wolf to see what he could come up with. Quirky, stuttered and superb live, hope you enjoy the remix" - Mikey Morrison (Come On Gang!)

5. Shambles Miller - Questions and Chancers (a wee demo he managed to track down)

"Most of my songs are very personal; I don't tend to write about things I haven't experienced or things I don't feel. This doesn't always mean they have to be about heartbreak, love and politics, however. Depending on your point of view, I guess this song could be about how I'm a bit of a square, but if that's what I am then it's something I embrace." - Campbell (Shambles) Miller

Thanks to everyone for contributing their cracking song. I can't thank you enough! If you like the sound of it, the EP is now up for free download over on my bandcamp page along with EP's #1 and #2, and the special Foxgang Festival EP. Enjoy!

You'll be pleased to know that EP #4 is already under way. No spoilers though! Once again, any bands out there with a mouthwatering exclusive or rarity and fancy appearing on one of these EPs, then feel free to send me a wee email.

You can hear 40% of these bands at Stereo on 1st for the launch of How To Swim's album. The other band on the bill that night are those Over The Wall boys!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Steven Milne - Best Of Times EP

No, not the St. Johnstone frontman. Though, if the name Steven Milne sounds familiar, that's because he's been mentioned on this ol' blog a few times now. This particular Steven is the frontman for Aberdeen's prima indie band The Little Kicks, and with them, is already responsible for bringing us one of the finest Scottish debut albums of recent years, Boxing Clever. Not content with preparing the eagerly-awaited follow-up to that, Steven is about to release his solo Best Of Times EP next week. with debut album Chasing Phantoms following on 1st November.

So "is the EP any good?" I hear you say...... It is indeed!

The opening, title track is reminiscent of The Coral during one of their slower, moodier moments, and wouldn't sound out of place on the Scousers' Best Of. We'll skip Track 2 for the time being and come back to it in a mo. Finishing off the EP are two mellower, melodic beauties, Brian Wilson and Human Being. Complete with some of Steven's own vocal harmonies, the former is a song fit to pay homage to the great Beach Boy himself!

Now, lets get back to Track 2. Anyone with the audacity to cover Orange Juice's Rip It Up, arguably one of Scotland's greatest ever pop songs, is taking a bit of a gamble. Thankfully, Steven's jangly, funky take on the classic is an absolute cracker!

Without a doubt, the Best Of Times EP is further evidence Steven Milne is one of the most exciting songwriters in Scotland. It's released on 20th September on Bedford Records, ahead of a busy month of touring to plug the CD release of his debut album Chasing Phantoms on 1st November. If you head over to Amazon MP3 you can already download the album, and if you fancy catching him live, here's the details...

Upcoming Gigs
23rd Sept - Snafu, Aberdeen (acoustic)
30th Sept - Kilau, Aberdeen (acoustic)
2nd Oct - Mad Hatters, Inverness (supporting Sparrow and the Workshop)
3rd Oct - Sneaky Petes, Edinburgh
15th Oct - The Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore
30th Oct - Instore @ One Up Records, Aberdeen
20th Nov - The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen (album launch party)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers On Tour

The blog title and the poster above say it all really... Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers are about to set off on a 10-day tour of Scotland in October. Having seen them a lot over the last year or two, I can safely say their live shows never disappoint and are always memorable nights! If you've not already gotten your copy of their amazing debut album Home And The Wildhunt then you're missing out! Download it now over at iTunes or Amazon MP3.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Kowalskiy Belated Review #1

Let's face it, I'm a bit of a shoddy blogger. My blog posts are pretty sporadic with no proper routine whatsoever. But, when it comes to forgetting to pop up a review I've promised, or replying to an email a fortnight later, that's when I come into my own! So I've decided to do something about this scatterbrain image I've done so well to build up. I can't promise that my unique brand of musical neglect won't resurface, after all this blogging lark is on top of a regular 9-5. What I can do is eventually get around to putting some much deserved plugs in the Kowalskiy Belated Review.

Cancel The Astronauts - Funny For A Girl EP
The first band to feature are Kowalskiy favourites Cancel The Astronauts. In my defence, I've waited ages for this release after their outstanding debut I Am The President Of Your Fanclub..... so they can wait for this plug! Besides, those pesky Edinburgers recently admitted to ignoring us too. Such a rude bunch indeed, but by jings you gotta love them. Funny For A Girl has been well worth the wait. Each track backs up their credentials as thee most fun and exciting unsigned band in the country. The opening, title track is as perfect a pop song as you can get. From the ah-haha's and ee-hehe's to the sublime guitar riff, it is an absolute cracker. In frontman Matt Riley they might well have Scotland's answer to Jarvis Cocker... albeit with better eyesight and a much, much prettier voice. Shame about the tracksuits. There'll be no woo-ing Ms. Tweedy with those!

The Douglas Firs - Haunting Through EP
The next act to feature is Abbeyhill's Neil Insh a.k.a. the douglas firs, and this release couldn't be more different to the first if it tried. Saying that though, I really like this EP too. Opening track The Quickening might well take its name from the cult film The Highlander. Kicking off with the sound of crunching leaves, a distant marching drumbeat building up before giving in to stunning Celtic strings and Neil's gentle vocals. It's stunning! The applause and cheering halfway through a song has never been more thoroughly deserved. In many ways it reminds me a lot of Get Well Soon, although more stripped back, but no less beautiful. The other three tracks on this EP are every bit as rewarding to listen to. It's been the perfect accompaniment to a fortnight's break from blogging!

Loch Awe - Artificial Life From A Digital Sea
Last but not least are the lovely Edinburgh folktet Loch Awe with their 7-song FREE debut. It's no secret I love this kind of music. Standout tracks Resign and Lullaby From A Digital Sea are quite staggering, multi-layered folk gems that won't fail to bring a smile to you face. Apparently, the watery Loch Awe is affectionately known as the 'Jewel of Argyll'. Might not be long before this folky Loch Awe are bestowed a similar honour. Best get used to the name, we'll be hearing a lot more from them I'm sure!

If you fancy having a listen and downloading any of the releases, just click the cover art!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Arran Arctic - Interrupt Me

As promised two months ago, Arran Arctic has now released his latest single Interrupt Me for free over on his website, and as expected, it's every bit as good as the last one. For the best in dreamy, glitchy rock, look no further than the one man Radio Dept.

Not content with that freebie, Arran has for the first time made his entire back catalogue available to download under the 'Free Music Philosophy', or as someone once said (and I've pinched) 'Listen! Like? Buy!'. Click on the cover art down below and have a wee listen.

Arran Arctic - The Boy In Brown Arran Arctic - Electronic Blood Arran Arctic - Notebook Arran Arctic - By The Sea

...Salute Mary!

This week saw the debut release from Edinburgh alt-rockers Salute Mary. It's fair to say it doesn't fill me with excitement when a press release cites Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins as a bands main influences. I'd always found the latter a bit 'hit-and-miss', while Nirvana to me was something the outcast at school had scrawled onto his bag with Tipp-Ex©.

I'm glad to say thought, that having had their Lonely Escapades EP for a while now, in that time it has really grown on me. Whether its the slow-burning, moody standout track Hanging From Trees or the scratchy, punk riff of Alibi, reminiscent of early Kings Of Leon, the EP is full to the brim with good ol' fashioned rock. Definitely one to be played loud!

Here's what they had to say for themselves...

Kowalskiy: Who are Salute Mary?
Salute Mary: Salute Mary are a four piece form Edinburgh that play hard hitting alternative rock music influenced by their appreciation for the pioneering musicians of the '80s and '90s. Singer/Guitarist Calum Haggerty started the band with friend Gavin Conn (guitar) at the end of 2008 and with the help of Gumtree added our rhythm section, Chris Sharples (Bass) and Steve Howorth (Drums). We played our first show in 2009 and spent the rest of that year gigging throughout Scotland. We started work on Lonely Escapades in 2010 and recorded it in June.

Kowalskiy: You have just released Lonely Escapades, your debut EP. What's the story behind it and what can we all expect from it?
Salute Mary: It was recorded almost completely live in analogue studio Green Door Studios CIC in Glasgow. No real story behind the EP. Probably best described in our press release:

"With an evolving approach and focused, streamlined sound, Lonely Escapades explores various styles from the darker, sombre realm of ‘Vivid Pale’ to the driving guitar work and unbridled emotion on display in ‘Alibi’. Lonely Escapades pounds with a weighty, dark alt-rock fervour that recalls Smashing Pumpkins’ heyday; at other times, the record buzzes with a frantic distortion and howling anger reminiscent of Nirvana.
Post-rock elements add depth to a broad and diverse direction for the band perhaps most evident on title track ‘Lonely Escapades’ which blends a burning bass groove, aching vocals and ambient guitar noise that intermittently, explodes from the speakers adopting a dynamic range and sense of urban noir indicative of post rock bands like Mogwai. With intertwining guitar work and streamlined dynamics courtesy of a haunting cello line; ‘Hanging from Trees’ is reminiscent of Sonic Youth's more reflective output which climaxes with an atmospheric yet furious bath of noise"
Kowalskiy: What does the future have in store for Salute Mary?
Salute Mary: Salute Mary will be starting a 10 day UK Tour in Nov/Dec playing London, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The band have booked studio time in January and February in 2011 to record their next EP which will be released in April 2011. We the plan to tour that new EP extensively throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK. 2011 will be a big live year for the band after spending most on 2010 writing.

Keep your eyes peeled for the info on these tour dates. The Lonely Escapades EP can be bought now over on iTunes.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Miniature Dinosaurs - Cold Shoulder

Now this is something worth blogging about again for! Back in April, Miniature Dinosaurs revealed all for one of my K&A sessions, and plugged their debut Chatterbox EP (available from iTunes for a mere £3.16). Five months on, and Stirling's finest are preparing to unleash their devastatingly-infectious new single Cold Shoulder on the unsuspecting public.

Now, I'd struggle to do many things in the space of 201 seconds but in that time, these 4 Stirlingians have pulled out all the stops and made one of the best singles of the year. Think, the wit and delivery of Pulp but with all the fun and sheer joy that comes with listening to those folk from the mitchell museum. Have a listen for yourself. Get your smiles at the ready!

Cold Shoulder

Now, if you're thinking that the bassline sound vaguely familiar, then here's frontman Barry to explain all...

Kowalskiy: So tell us the story behind Cold Shoulder.
Barry: Before Miniature Dinosaurs came together, Alban (Bass Guitar) and I used to travel about Stirling hitting as many open mics as we possibly could. I remember once we played four in one night, which required some serious night time driving. Covering as much open-mic-ground as we did, we felt people would quickly get bored of original material, and so we started slipping in a few cover versions. One of the more popular ones was always Toxic by Britney Spears in which Alban had an absolute smasher of a bass line. Cold Shoulder was then written, especially, to cater for this four string masterpiece. These days it's burried under a mix of guitars, vocals and synths, but if you put your ear up to a set of Bang & Olufsen subwoovers, for example, you can pick it out.

Kowalskiy: Intoxicate me now, with your lovin' now... Er, so what does the future hold in store for Miniature Dinosaurs?
Barry: Cold Shoulder is part of a series of recordings we've been doing with the same producer as Chatterbox. The track was miles ahead of the rest in terms of production, so we thought we'd put it out there to get some excitement going. The rest will catch up over time and we're aiming to bring out a bigger release at the start of next year. We're touring Scotland at the moment, having just came up from England, and we've got something much bigger planned on that front for February. It's all go on the live and recording front right now, and we're loving it. Additionally, we're also going to be part of an MTV feature, but I'll leave it at that..!

Cold Shoulder is out to download on the 11th October. Be sure to mark your calendars! In the meantime, those mini dinos will be on tour from Friday.

Upcoming Gigs
10th Sept - @Bar, Montrose
11th Sept - McQ's, Stirling (supporting The Ray Summers)
12th Sept - Tunnels, Aberdeen (supporting Angry Vs. The Bear)
14th Sept - King Tuts, Glasgow (supporting Florrie)
16th Sept - QMU, Glasgow (supporting Twin Atlantic)
*Glasgow Uni students only
17th Sept - Doghouse, Dundee
24th Sept - Riot Anyone? Festival @ Maggie's Chamber, Edinburgh
25th Sept - Mad Ferret Fest @ The Loft, Forres
2nd Oct - Reloaded Fest @ Tollbooth, Stirling
6th Nov - Mad Hatters, Inverness